Michael Green: Xi-Trump meeting more important than joint communiqué

Michael Green is the senior vice president for Asia and Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and chair in modern and contemporary Japanese politics and foreign policy at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

For the coming Xi-Trump meeting, the highest expectation of the United States is for China to bring the “gift” of pressuring the Kim Jong-un regime, while China would especially hope Trump to recognize the “One China” policy, Michael Green said in a recent interview with Sino-US.com. Michael Green formerly served on the staff of the National Security Council and then as special assistant to the president for national security affairs and senior director for Asia.

About the much-anticipated “Fourth Joint Communiqué”, Green said that US-China relations have been changing, so it is dangerous to try to use language to summarize both parties’ attitudes and approaches toward a series of issues. According to Green, the particularity of this US president and the many vacancies in his administration means that the country’s Asia policy is still in formation. Green even joked that based on the current situation, if Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner could maintain a stable marriage, then the trilateral relationship among the US, China and Japan would be stabilized.  

In Green’s view, with Xi-Trump meeting just around the corner, Trump would hope Xi to take more actions on North Korea while Xi will aim to push Trump to once again recognize the “One China” policy.

Overall, the Trump administration remains clumsy in handling various issues and there is a long way to go for all the vacancies to be filled. So, it would be difficult for Trump to “pay back”. Green emphasized the importance of two leaders knowing each other personally and developing a personal relationship. He believes this meeting would help the two countries to reach agreement on certain issues.

About one of the significant topics of the summit - North Korean nuclear issue, Green mentioned Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s “dual suspension” proposal. In his view, it can hardly be realized considering the US has long stopped trusting North Korea.

Some analysts had hoped the summit could bring the so-called US-China fourth joint communiqués, while Green thinks it is not necessary. In his view, “joint communiqués” are designed to deal with some problems. The US-China relations have been changing and transforming. It would be dangerous to use certain language to summarize the two countries’ attitudes and approaches to a series of issues in various fields.
Green, who is a Republican, said the Obama administration had worked hard to push forward the fourth joint communiqué but failed. In his view, leftwing parties are quite into things like communiqué while the right-wing politicians would not care too much about it. Compared with joint communiqués, concrete bilateral treaties like BIT usually are more valued.

Green also commented candidly about Trump administration’s Asia policies. The two pillars to prop up the US leadership in Asia are the Treaty of San Francisco and “One China” policy. The interesting thing, according to Green, is that Trump has voiced his suspicion toward both. One reason is that he may be just trying to gain support of the voters; the second is that as a professional businessman, he would naturally oppose anything put forward by the other party.

However, Trump has begun to come back to the old track of making policies. He has made commitments to strengthen the US-Japan alliance and showed respect to the “One China” policy. Considering that Ivanka Trump was present at the Trump-Abe meeting and her husband Kushner facilitated the coming Xi-Trump meeting, Green joked that as long as the First Daughter’s marriage is stable, the trilateral relationship would be good.

Green noted there is rarely conflicting opinions on the Asia policies among Republicans. Generally speaking, the key point would be economic cooperation and peace through strength, or things like that.  

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