Trump's grand bargains
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The three words to watch at President Trump's pair of summits over the next month: verifiable, measurable and enforceable.
Driving the news: Trump is on his way to Vietnam, where he'll meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. He'll then host Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago sometime in March. On Monday, he teased a "signing summit" with Xi, saying negotiators are "getting very, very close."
The big picture: It’s hard to find anyone in government who believes North Korea or China are willing to make the dramatic shifts Trump believes he can bring about — complete denuclearization for North Korea and immense structural changes for China.
China’s leaders are masters at playing the Americans. They’ve done so over multiple administrations — and they don’t even acknowledge that they steal U.S. intellectual property on a vast, state-sponsored scale.
- Xi remains committed to his "Made in China 2025" advanced manufacturing strategy to give Chinese high-tech companies advantages over American ones and would, if successful, prevent Trump from achieving his trade goals.
- A source close to the negotiations described the debate with the Chinese over the important "structural" issues as a "death march."
North Korea’s leaders are even craftier than the Chinese negotiators. "No one has played [a hand of] two 2s better than they have," said a former senior U.S. official with extensive experience negotiating with North Korea.
- The Trump team hopes to get a roadmap to denuclearization from this week's Hanoi summit, but Kim doesn't appear to have even made the basic decision to denuclearize.
The bottom line: Whatever wins Trump may tout in his post-summit rhetoric, check the fine print.