Apr. 7, 2017
US President Donald Trump met with his Chinese counterpart for the first time Thursday evening.
At dinner, Trump said he could develop a good relationship with President Xi Jinping.
"We've had a long discussion already, and so far I have gotten nothing, absolutely nothing, but we have developed a friendship - I can see that - and I think long term we are going to have a very, very great relationship and I look very much forward to it."
At the top of the agenda is how to deal with China's next-door neighbor North Korea.
The country has continued provocative actions such as the launch of a ballistic missile on Wednesday. Trump will likely urge Xi to put more economic pressure on the North through UN sanctions.
Trump said before the talks that trade will also be up for discussion. He has repeatedly complained about US trade deficits with China.
China's state-run media Xinhua news agency said Xi invited Trump to visit his country this year. The report said Trump accepted the offer.
Newsroom Tokyo anchor Sho Beppu is joined in the studio by 2 guests: Koichiro Tanaka, a specialist in Middle East affairs from the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan, and Yasuhiro Izumikawa, a Professor at Chuo University who specializes in US foreign policy.
Beppu: Mr. Izumikawa, do you think that with the strike and the meeting with Xi, Trump is pushing very hard to advance his causes?
Izumikawa: I believe so. I think the kind of message that he is trying to send to Xi is that the US hopes China will cooperate with the US to put pressure on North Korea, but at the same time, he's basically indicating that that the US will act unilaterally if China is unwilling to do so.
Beppu: They are saying that they are reviewing their policies against Pyongyang. Could there be a strike against North Korea?
Izumikawa: That's exactly what President Trump wants China to believe. If China believes there is a possibility of a US strike, then they will get more serious that they are, but at the same time it's a different question whether or not the US is prepared to take military action against North Korea because it's very different from taking action in the Middle East because if it happens, then North Korea will retaliate and there is going to be a lot of casualties on both sides.
Beppu: I was recently talking with an expert on the Korean Peninsula and he was saying that the US' Asian allies -- South Korea and Japan -- don't want to see any such strike to take place because there will be repercussions.
Izumikawa: Yes, that's a very tricky question for South Korea and Japan. Of course, both countries want the US to take a lead and provide clear security commitments to both countries. But at the same time, if the US becomes too aggressive, then, as you indicated, it could create the worst scenario. That's something both countries probably want to avoid.
Beppu: Mr. Tanaka, how are the US' Middle East allies reacting to the strike in Syria? We do know that Saudi Arabia was asking for such an action for a long time.
Tanaka: The situation is quite different in the Middle East from this part of the world. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey and others who are strong allies of the US in the Middle East region are quite happy to see what has happened.
First of all, they don't want Assad to remain in power, that's number one, so maybe this might lead to the next step, the further step the Americans might take in trying to remove Assad from power.
The second point is that if these allies in the region see that the US is really committed in supporting their security and providing their security coverage, they'll be more relaxed to see the developments in the Middle East especially because during Barack Obama's presidency, the last several years, has been quite detrimental to their own security conditions because of his policy in trying to negotiate with Iran.
Beppu: I know that you're going to say it might be too premature to talk about this, but are we seeing something that could be called, probably later, a "Trump doctrine?" If such a thing is starting to take shape, what kind of thing do you think that would be like?
Izumikawa: If you try to name whatever strategy he may have, that's going to be something like a "FAD strategy doctrine" -- FAD stands for fear, ambiguity, and doubt and that means to create ambiguity on the part of US targets so that they would make more compromise than otherwise. But again, I'm a little bit skeptical about that possibility that he actually has a clear strategy.
Beppu: Don't these kinds of strikes alienate his base? During the elections, we heard from his supporters that they're tired of the 2 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and then he presented himself that he would not fall into that trap. So how about this point? How about the calculations in terms of relations with his base?
Izumikawa: First of all, I think it's highly unlikely that this action will lead to more ground operations. This time, basically, it's an attack on afar, and the US took advantage of its own military assets in the region so the military risk is relatively low for the US. So his supporters would not be disappointed by that. Second of all, one of the unique characteristics of Trump supporters is that they love whatever President Trump does, so that's again, politically not too risky for him to do this.
Beppu: How about you, Mr. Tanaka? How would you imagine a Trump doctrine?
Tanaka: If I may confine my comments to the Middle East, I think that for the year 2017, President Trump is simply following anything but Obama. I think he's trying to dismantle whatever Obama has left in the region and also to deny his legacy and everything. So whatever Obama did, Trump would not do. Whatever Obama didn't do, I believe Trump is strongly inclined to do.
Beppu: If we can call this an "ABO policy" -- Anything But Obama policy -- how about the nuclear deal with Iran that is considered one of Obama's legacies?
Tanaka: President Trump has been calling that the worst deal America has made. But I believe that he has gotten the idea that dismantling the Iranian deal from the American side would not benefit the US. So he's trying to make sort of an environment that eventually would lead the Iranians to scrap the deal, or to catch them red-handed if there is a violation. Then the Trump administration would have the perfect reason to call it a violation and to go after it. So at the moment, they're still there.