If you think President Trump has enemies in Washington, just wait until he gets to the G-20 economic summit later this week in Hamburg. There, world leaders will be lying in wait to ambush the rogue American.
Unlike most sneak attacks, this one is being well advertised. China’s ambitious president, Xi Jinping, is traveling first to Russia, then to Germany in advance of the G-20, which he will also attend. While Trump and Xi made nice at their April meeting in Washington, the two economic superpowers have wide differences on China’s support for North Korea, its alleged intellectual property theft, and its gaping trade surplus with the U.S.
Xi won’t be leading the charge against Trump. That honor will go to the host of the summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She has been scalding in her criticism of Trump, especially since he withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord, and criticized Merkel for admitting tens of thousands of Middle Eastern refugees to Europe.
And that doesn’t even factor in the strategy of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who will try to align himself with other European leaders, effectively freezing out Trump. Never mind that Russia has drawn strong criticism for annexing the Crimea and propping up Syria’s Bashir Al Assad. When it comes to Trump, the enemy of my enemy…
“I don’t think the three of them see themselves as a group,” says Sourabh Gupta, a Washington-based policy analyst at the Institute for China-America Studies. “China and Germany both have current account surpluses, and an intensive economic relationship. To that extent, they will find common cause at the G-20 against Trump.”
Gupta says Merkel bears part of the blame for the sour start to her dealings with the American. “Other countries like Japan have gone out of their way to keep a healthy relationship with Trump. But Merkel hasn’t done that. She has been kind of snooty and seems to be waiting for Trump to grow up and act like a mainstream politician.”
For his part, Putin is playing coy about the possibility of meeting Trump one-on-one at the summit. White House advisors are playing down that prospect, in case Putin snubs the American at the last minute. Trump may imagine that he can turn on the charm and sway the Kremlin’s master. Good luck with that. First he’ll have to get past Frau Merkel and Xi, neither of whom seem to have succumbed to the Orange Glow.