Donald Trump
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump reversed several of his campaign promises. For example, he now supports the Ex/Im bank and is considering renominating Janet Yellen as the Federal Reserve Chair. But his remarks about China garnered the most attention.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday he has offered President Xi Jinping more favorable trade terms for Beijing in exchange for help on confronting the threat of North Korea…

Mr. Trump also said his administration won’t label China a currency manipulator…

Mr. Trump described his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin as nonexistent, but said he developed a warm rapport with Mr. Xi after their first meeting last week at his estate in south Florida…

Mr. Trump said he told his Chinese counterpart he believed Beijing could easily take care of the North Korea threat. Mr. Xi then explained the history of China and Korea, Mr. Trump said.

“After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy,” Mr. Trump recounted. “I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power” over North Korea,” he said. “But it’s not what you would think.”

The turnaround is stark. Going back to the time Trump initially kicked off his presidential ambitions during a speech at CPAC in 2011, he has consistently demonized China, going so far as to tell an Indiana crowd that “We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country.” In addition to focusing on the trade issue, Trump consistently accused China of being a currency manipulator and promised to label them as such on his first day in office.

Now we are supposed to believe that Trump and the president of China have developed such “warm rapport” that all that is in the past and this supposedly ruthless deal-maker with the attention span of a two year-old was willing to listen to President Xi Jinping for 10 minutes about the history of the relationship between China and Korea — gaining empathy for the limitations of their power.

After all we’ve learned about Donald Trump over the course of his candidacy and time in office, we’re actually supposed to believe that? This is one of those times when it is critical to remember that Trump is a congenital liar.

Instead of swallowing that story whole, it is important to keep a few things in mind. First of all, Adam Gopnick reminded us before the meeting between these two presidents that the Chinese tend to play a long game.

In anticipation of the summit, Evan Medeiros, an Asia expert at the Eurasia Group, observed that “many in China believe Trump is a ‘paper tiger’ whose focus on short-term gains can be manipulated.” Having concluded that Trump cannot back up his rhetoric, Xi has little reason to accede to Trump’s demands, which include getting China to put more pressure on North Korea to curb its nuclear program. The visitors from Beijing also know that, at some point, Trump will attempt a splashy display of confrontation. But Beijing is not overly concerned. Let Trump tweet; Xi is playing a longer game.

Has President Xi Jinping been manipulating Trump? If the Steele dossier is correct, he might have the goods to do so.

Commenting on the negative media publicity surrounding alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election campaign in support of Trump, Source E said he understood that the Republican candidate and his team were relatively relaxed about this because it deflected media and the Democrats’ attention away from Trump’s business dealings in China and other emerging markets. Unlike in Russia, these were substantial and involved the payment of large bribes and kickbacks which, were they to become public, would be potentially very damaging to their campaign.

But even if that isn’t accurate, there is the story about a big turnaround in China’s approval of Trump trademarks. For example:

The government of China awarded U.S. President Donald Trump valuable rights to his own name this week, in the form of a 10-year trademark for construction services.

The registration became official on Feb. 14 and was published in a trademark registration announcement on the website of China’s Trademark Office on Wednesday…

The registration this week came as a surprise win for Trump after a decade of trying — and failing — to wrest the rights to his name back from a man named Dong Wei. The abrupt turn in Trump’s bureaucratic fortunes once he declared his candidacy has raised questions about the extent to which his political status may be helping his family business.

There might be those who say that it is unfair to promote this kind of innuendo. But when we have a president who refuses to release his tax returns and has a pattern of lying about everything from meaningless details to major issues, it is reckless not to question his motives when he exhibits this kind of sudden change in direction.

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