- Trump-Xi Summit Accomplishment: Getting to Know One Another
U.S. officials said President Donald Trump’s first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week was an opportunity for the leaders of the world’s two largest economies to get to know each other and set up future meetings.
That was the biggest accomplishment after about 18 hours together at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort — a visit punctuated by a U.S. missile strike on Syria Thursday night. There were no trade or investment deals announced, no agreement to contain North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, no plan stitched together to reduce tensions in the South China Sea.
A statement from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer late Friday cited an array of topics the pair and their contingents discussed, from North Korea to cybersecurity to protecting human rights, and said Trump and Xi “established a new and cabinet-level framework” for future talks.
“We have very similar economic interests and there are areas where they clearly want to work with us,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters on Friday. “The objective is for us to increase our exports to them.”
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross added that “the most interesting thing to me was they expressed an interest in reducing their net trade balance because of the impact it’s having on money supply and inflation. That’s the first time I’d heard them say that.’’
Trump tweeted on Saturday that the meetings had created “tremendous goodwill and friendship” but that “only time will tell on trade.”
China’s leaders in fact have long been concerned about the yawning U.S. trade deficit with their country, $347 billion in 2016. Ross said the two countries agreed to a “100-day plan” to discuss trade; there were few details.
In tone and results, the summit was similar to a 2013 meeting between Xi and President Barack Obama in Rancho Mirage, California, that also produced little by way of tangible announcements. But Trump’s inaugural visit with Xi had a little more drama.
Trump upended the meeting by ordering the launch of dozens of cruise missiles at Syrian targets on Thursday, just before Xi’s arrival in Florida. The missile strike overshadowed the summit and also increased tension between the two countries over North Korea, days after Trump said in an interview with the Financial Times that he’s willing to take unilateral action against a regime flouting international norms.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said “there was no kind of package arrangement discussed to resolve” tensions with North Korea, adding that Xi agreed the situation “has reached a very serious stage in terms of the advancement.”
Trump told Xi the U.S. would “chart our own course if this is something China is just unable to coordinate with us,” Tillerson said.
In his statement, Spicer said the two sides “noted the urgency of the threat” of Pyongyang’s weapons programs, “reaffirmed their commitment to a denuclearized Korean peninsula, and committed to fully implement UN Security council resolutions.”
For China, the meeting was probably a success. Much of the Communist Party’s top leadership will change during a congress later this year, and in the run-up to that event, “Xi Jinping just wants the United States off his back,” said Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia and the director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. The two leaders appeared to develop a rapport, she said.
‘Positive and Fruitful’
China’s official news agency Xinhua said Saturday that the “positive and fruitful” meetings have sent a “clear-cut” message that Washington and Beijing can become great cooperative partners.
The presidents didn’t mention the Syria attack, and even steered clear in their public remarks of issues like trade that were supposed to dominate the summit.
They remarked generally about “progress” in their relationship and optimism about the future. That could indicate that the relationship between the two countries remains stable, despite Trump’s fiery accusations during his campaign, and afterward, that China has stolen U.S. manufacturing jobs.
“The relationship developed by President Xi and myself, I think, is outstanding,’’ Trump said Friday during a meeting between the two countries’ delegations. “I believe lots of very potentially bad problems will be going away.’’ In a posting on its website on Saturday, China’s foreign ministry said the countries had agreed to “properly” deal with issues of trade friction.
Strolling the Grounds
Xi thanked Trump for his hospitality and said the meeting had served the purpose of advancing the U.S.-China relationship.
“We had long and in-depth communication,’’ Xi said through a translator. “And, more importantly, we have further built up understanding and establish a kind of trust, and we have initially built up a working relationship and friendship.’’
The two leaders were later photographed strolling the grounds of Trump’s waterfront resort. Trump accepted Xi’s invitation to visit China later this year, Tillerson said.
Another matter that didn’t come up was the bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric Co.’s nuclear reactor business. Toshiba Corp., Westinghouse’s parent company, has sought a buyer for the unit and Trump administration officials are so concerned about Chinese investors obtaining control of it that they have sought an American or allied purchaser.
“We have been looking very carefully at that,” Ross said. Mnuchin added that “any such transaction” would have to be reviewed by the Committee on Financial Investment in the U.S., which can block sales of U.S. companies to foreign investors.
The friendly banter between the leaders belied growing tension in the relationship after Trump’s public criticisms of China and his promises to extract concessions from the country on trade and North Korea.
“We have been treated unfairly and have made terrible trade deals with China for many, many years,’’ Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Thursday as he flew to Palm Beach. “That’s one of the things we are going to be talking about.’’
His Cabinet secretaries said that Trump indeed confronted Xi.
“President Trump noted the challenges caused by Chinese government intervention into its economy,” Tillerson said Friday. ““The president underscored the need for China to take concrete steps to level the playing field for American workers, stressing repeatedly the need for reciprocal market access.”
Trump informed Xi of the missile strike as they were dining, roughly when 59 Tomahawk missiles were hitting a Syrian airfield. Trump told reporters the strike was in response to a nerve gas attack by the Syrian regime against civilians Tuesday.
The Chinese have opposed efforts to remove Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad from power and probably took offense at the attack, said Dennis Wilder, former senior director for Asia during the George W. Bush administration.
“For President Xi, this will be embarrassing internationally because in so many settings and so many venues China has condemned the United States for unilateral military action in the past, and this is certainly a unilateral action,’’ he said. “I think that the Chinese will be expressing some anger privately to the United States.’’
China’s public probably won’t regard the strike as a message to their leaders unless the Trump administration makes the case explicitly, said Doug Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.
“I doubt the Chinese in the end think this was really done as a message to Beijing,’’ said Paal, who who served as Asian affairs director in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
In The Fight Against Corruption, No Individual is Bigger Than The State – Buhari
In response to the suspended acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, President Muhammed Buhari, lamented that the anti-corruption war becomes endangered “when persons entrusted with the responsibility of that magnitude become suspects themselves.”
Buhari, whose vision is to put an end to corruption in Nigeria, believed that every aspect of the nation’s life is enshrined in corruption and it’s of major concern when leaders of institutions saddled with the mandate to fight the menace are found in the waves of the corruption they claimed to be fighting.
This act is a great abomination not only because it strikes at the root but it also trivialises and undermines the anti-corruption crusade itself, the President explained.
He further said that in a bid to put an end to this great abomination, he had set up Ayo Salami Panel to unravel the mystery behind the mystique of Magu’s alleged involvement in corruption that his administration is fighting.
Buhari said that his administration is ready and willing to go all out in the fight against corruption, and no one is too big nor above the law to become a victim of anti-graft’s sledgehammer.
The president said, “However, the stark reality of widespread corruption becomes poignant when allegations of corruption touch on the leadership of an institution set up by law to coordinate and enforce all economic and financial crimes.
“It is an abomination that strikes at the root and undermines the government’s anti-corruption programme.
“It was in response to the serious allegations against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that I set up a panel headed by the Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami, retired President of the Court of Appeal, via an Instrument dated 3rd July 2020 pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004).
“We recognise that there are more grounds to cover in the war against corruption, and we are prepared to go out to possess those lands by cutting off any stream that nourishes the seed of corruption and supports its growth.
“Let it be known that in the fight against corruption, no one is too big to tackle, as no individual is bigger than the Nigerian State!”
In Search For The New EFCC Chairman, Justice Ayo Salami Panel Advises Buhari to Look Outside The Police Force
Justice Ayo Salami’s panel advised President Muhammadu Buhari to look outside the Nigerian Police Force for the new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
A credible source confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari may have decided to follow the panel recommendation to avoid a similar fate to that of Magu, the former chairman.
The source also confirmed that the panel recommendation was a result of sleaze allegations against suspended acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu. Also, that search team would be constituted in the next few days to slim down the possibilities of finding the right candidate to bring into reality the President’s vision of a corrupt-free anti-graft agency.
The source further confirmed that “the sleaze and abuse of office allegations against Magu, a commissioner of police, were overwhelming,” and that he may be put on trial.
As advised by the panel, the new EFCC chairman should be in interim position for two years.
It was suggested that the recommendation from the Justice Ayo Salami panel might have pinned Magu, according to Femi Adesina, the presidential spokesman, he advised president Buhari to consider looking into other law enforcement or security agencies, as well as considering important and diligent staff of EFCC in his plans to appoint the next EFCC chairman, as s provided in the EFCC Establishment Act of 2004.
Following the Justice Ayo Salami panel recommendation, Salami said “Your Excellency, permit me to say that four successive chairmen of the EFCC from inception have been drawn from the police. Therefore, in appointing a new chairman of EFCC, consideration should be given to candidates from other law enforcement or security agencies and qualified core staff of EFCC as provided in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment Act 2004).
“It is also important to point out that at the moment, 970 policemen (114 drivers, 641 mobile policemen and 215 operations), are on secondment in the EFCC.
“Therefore, an exit plan for the disengagement of the police and other personnel within two years from now should be considered. This will address the issue of non-promotion of core staff for over nine years.
“Your Excellency, our thinking here is that whoever you are appointing other than a core EFCC staff, should be in transitional capacity of two years during which period, the arrangement would be made for the appointment of any of the core staff who has been commended by National Crime Agency, UK and other international law enforcement for their professionalism”.
Justice Ayo Salami appreciated the president for giving members of the panel an avenue to serve the country.
Ezekwesili Presents Research Findings on Fixing Nigeria’s Politics
She stated this at the public launch of #FixPolitics, where she presented findings from her fellowship research on how to fix politics in Nigeria and Africa more broadly.
Ezekwesili invited 124 Nigerians from diverse fields of endeavour and geopolitical zones to collaborate on designing the research findings over the last one year as a Work Study Group. The group is the co-leadership organ responsible for an integrated citizens-led actions to fix the broken political system.
She pointed out that politics in Nigeria was not fulfilling the core requirement of a democratic system, which was to provide good governance for the common wellbeing of citizens.
“My research findings primarily reinforce that the poor state of affairs in Nigeria is the consequence of the quality of politics at play. Politics is at the heart of everything any society can or will become. The essential process of democracy is not complete without politics,” the 2019 Nigerian Presidential candidate said.
In her study, she established primarily that in a democratic system, “there are three triangular pillars which determine the kind of outcomes that politics will produce for the people.
Explaining the concept, the former World Bank vice president said, “On the right angle or demand side of the triangle is the electorate; on the left or supply side is the politicians, political class and parties; and at the top is the regulatory – constitutional, legal, electoral and institutional context within which the politics happen.”
According to her, these tripod pillars create an interconnecting network of actions that determine the outcomes of every political system.
“Every pillar or angle of the triangle must function effectively and concurrently with the other two to enable the right quality of politics that will deliver strong economic performance for a people.
“In evaluating the outcome of politics in Nigeria and Africa, my study established that the quality of the electorate, quality of political class and quality and lack of independence and capacity of political institutions constitute a structural and systemic problem for democracy and must therefore be fixed by citizens,” Ezekwesili said.
She also said, “The research found that Nigeria is ridden with politicians without competing ideas of how to solve the problems of citizens, who lack a culture of public service and subordinate the common good to their personal and narrow interests.
“The constitutional, legal, institutional and regulatory environment is compromised by the political class to more frequently act without independence, fairness and adherence to the rule of law. The political space is thus completely monopolised by the supply side of governance, that is the political class, thereby causing political, economic and social stagnation for the nation and people.
“Currently in our politics, voters generally lack the level of influence necessary to compel the right political processes and good outcomes that serve the good of all in society.
“The bright prospect is that evidence from the #FixPolitics research shows that citizens are the only angle of the triangle that can act and propel systemic change by collectively and decisively acting for their common good.”
To alter the status quo, Ezekwesili said only the electorate “have the incentive to correct the abnormality in a political system.”
She added, “It is the collective effort of citizens that can change the quality of political class and compel the kind of constitutional and electoral changes required to achieve good governance.”
Delivering a keynote address, former President Felipe Calderon of Mexico said there was an enormous gap between the interests of the citizens and that of the politicians, which he saw as a major problem to a democratic setting.
“To fix politics in Nigeria, the citizens and the politicians must work together and represent the same in practical life,” he said.
Calderon further said that “citizens must change their perception of politics and political participation rather than holding to a view that politics is for corrupt and dishonest people.”
According to him, corrupt people are quite the opposite of what politics stands. “To fix politics is what happens when the people participate and take responsibility to provide political participation with ethical sense and ethical parameters,” Calderon added.
In a goodwill message, former President of Malawi, Dr. Joyce Banda, said politics should be seen as an inclusive love affair and if institutionally implemented, “Africa will witness a great change in its democratic system.”
While dissecting the dynamics of democracy, three intergenerational panels with discussants like Prof. Atahiru Jega, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Aisha Yesufu, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Jude Abaga(also known as M.I Abaga), Cynthia Mbamalu, Yemi Adamolekun, Samson Itodo, among others, agreed that there was an emerging consensus to fix politics in Nigeria as the status quo was untenable and unsustainable.
Speakers like Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, Ayo Sogunro, Ndi Kato, Adewunmi Emoruwa, and Dr. Usman Bugaje highlighted that “there is a need for young people and women to fully engage in partisan politics, create platforms for political engagement, use politics as a tool for framing a shared vision based on a new dominant value orientation of public service, connect the elite with the grassroots and mobilise the Nigerian public to mount pressure on the legislature for the right constitutional and electoral changes.”
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