Feb 10, 2019

Advisers float Mar-a-lago summit as Trump plots next moves with Xi

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Xi may soon come to Mar-a-Lago. President Trump's advisers have informally discussed holding a summit there next month with Chinese President Xi Jinping to try to end the U.S.-China trade war, according to two administration officials with direct knowledge of the internal discussions.

Both officials, who are not authorized to discuss the deliberations, described Trump's club in Palm Beach, Florida, as the "likely" location for the leaders' next meeting, but stressed that nothing is set. The meeting could come as soon as mid-March, these sources said.

  • A third official cautioned that the team has discussed other locations, including Beijing, and that it's premature to say where they'll meet or even whether a meeting is certain to happen.

The big picture: Perhaps the darkest cloud of economic uncertainty hanging over the Trump administration is the status of his trade war with China. Global markets are holding their breaths over the fate of hundreds of billions of dollars of trade.

Behind the scenes: Trump's upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un in Vietnam has complicated logistics for the Xi summit. Trump wanted to meet with Xi before his tariff ceasefire with China ends on March 1, but three sources with direct knowledge said the events couldn’t be planned so close together.

  • On March 1, Trump must decide whether to ratchet up tariffs from 10% to 25% on some $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. In early December, Trump told Xi he'd bump up those tariffs unless the Chinese showed "progress" on the big structural issues. (Trump hasn't been clear what would satisfy him here.)
  • The Chinese are loath to see the tariffs go up on March 1. Their influential stateside allies — especially on Wall Street — have long helped them sell Washington on promises of reform that never materialize.

The bottom line: It doesn't appear that the U.S. and China have made much progress, so far, on the biggest structural issues that Trump has promised to conquer. These include China's rampant theft of U.S. intellectual property, forced transfer of U.S. technology and trade abuses that China's leaders have used to grow their economy at America’s expense.

  • This week’s Beijing talks with senior officials will focus on enforcement, as the White House China hawks doubt the Chinese will keep any promises.
  • Trump plans to speak to Xi by phone before March 1, according to two administration officials familiar with his thinking. A long-term deal won't come before the two leaders meet.

What to watch: Congressional China hawks are pushing Trump to hold the line on China. The Senate Small Business Committee, which Sen. Marco Rubio chairs, will release a report on Tuesday "laying out the challenges with China’s campaign of industrial espionage and coercion," according to a source with direct knowledge.

Go deeper

World coronavirus updates: Cases surge past 720,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now more than 720,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 33,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 15 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 718,685 — Total deaths: 33,881 — Total recoveries: 149,076.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 139,675 — Total deaths: 2,436 — Total recoveries: 2,661.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump says his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Trump says peak coronavirus deaths in 2 weeks, extends shutdown

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump is extending his administration's "15 days to slow the spread" shutdown guidelines for an additional month in the face of mounting coronavirus infections and deaths and pressure from public health officials and governors.

Driving the news: With the original 15-day period that was announced March 16 about to end, officials around the country had been bracing for a premature call to return to normalcy from a president who's been venting lately that the prescription for containing the virus could be worse than the impacts of the virus itself.

Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - Health