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Trade, North Korea pose challenges as Trump prepares to meet China's Xi

Trump's style of diplomacy puts his Mar-a-Lago in spotlight

A two-day summit between Trump and Xi was set to begin on Thursday in Florida, with North Korea expected to be a high priority.

Beijing says its influence is limited and that it is doing all it can but that it is up to the United States to find a way back to talks with North Korea.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang said Friday that "China doesn't intentionally seek trade surpluses", and that the swelling USA deficit and Chinese surplus resulted from differences in the structures of the two countries' economies, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Trump hopes to use the talks to persuade and pressure China to use more of its leverage as the main provider of food and energy for the impoverished North to bring the provocative regime under control, and to reduce massive trade deficit with China.

Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum CSIS think tank in Honolulu, said he was expecting North Korea would do something to coincide with the Trump-Xi summit, perhaps conduct a nuclear test.

Trump wants China's help ending North Korea's testing of nuclear weapons.

The two officials are also expected to discuss trade issues, especially the yawning gap that yearly sees vastly more Chinese exports to the United States than American goods being shipped to China, a $310 billion trade deficit for the 2016. They then flew to Mar-a-Lago and played 27 holes of golf at two nearby Trump-branded golf courses.

Diplomats have noted that Tillerson, who greeted Xi upon his arrival in Palm Beach on Thursday, seemed to take on traditional Communist China talking points when he was in Beijing last month, speaking of "win-win" outcomes and "mutual respect".

According to advance thoughts on the summit from Beijing, Xi could offer the United States more Chinese investments, which would create more American jobs, a key Trump campaign pledge.

Orville Schell, the head of the Centre on US-China Relations at New York's Asia Society, said he suspected Trump would be a gracious host to Xi despite his fondness for China-bashing.

China has always been one of Trump's favorite political punching bags, and was one of his most prominent foils during his presidential campaign. The North conducted two nuclear tests and 24 ballistic missile tests past year, defying six Security Council sanctions resolutions banning any testing. "I don't think a great deal is going to change".

South Korea has tested a long-range ballistic missile capable of reaching anywhere in North Korea, Yonhap News reported, a day after its northern neighbour drew condemnation for launching another projectile.

Absent a significant commitment from Jinping on dealing with North Korea, Trump warned in his Financial Times interview that it's possible the US would elect to "solve" the problem. The meeting is designed as an opportunity for the two leaders to get to know each other in an informal, relaxed setting, far from the pomp and pageantry of an official state dinner.

Kim Hong-kyun, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs at the Foreign Ministry here, also had separate phone calls with the top nuclear negotiators of the USA and Japan - Joseph Yun and Kenji Kanasugi - to review the newest missile test and coordinate responses to Pyongyang's additional provocations, the ministry said.

Last week, the president predicted in a tweet that his meeting with Mr Xi would be "very difficult".