30 July, 2021

Winning By A Bye

A US policy waffle in Asia, fed by a paucity of diplomats, will allow China to gain ground

Two Hussars
Donald Trump with Xi Jinping
Photograph by Getty Images
Winning By A Bye

US President Donald Trump’s hands, notably small in size, have often hogged the limelight in his meetings with foreign dignitaries. First, there was the 19-second scrimmage with Shinzo Abe during which Trump kept vigorously tugging the Japanese premier’s unsuspecting extremity, causing him evident discomfort. Then came the joust with Justin Trudeau, which the Can­adian leader had reportedly come prepared for, yet barely managed to survive. The president’s incorrigible limbs were even more conspicuous in their refusal to cooperate during the tete-a-tete with Angela Merkel: despite prodding, Trump did not shake the German chancellor’s hands.

A regular clasp-quiver-and-disengage handshake with President Xi Jinping therefore came as a relief for the protocol managers. For analysts, though, it was also a tell-tale sign that Trump was backing down from his bellicose posture vis-a-vis China during his presidential campaign. And it wasn’t the only indication either. Trump met Xi at his Mar-a-Lago retreat on April 6 and promptly announced that the...

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