Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Politics

When Xi meets with Trump at Mar-a Lago, one thing's for sure: no golf

HONG KONG — When President Xi Jinping of China meets with President Donald Trump on Thursday, he will take with him an agenda at odds with that of his U.S. counterpart, leaving the world guessing how the two might hash out questions about trade and North Korea's nuclear provocations.

But one thing is certain: They will not golf.

However the two leaders spend their time at Trump's Mar-a Lago club in Palm Beach, "it's safe to say there's not going to be any golf," the White House said in a statement.

RELATED: Trump presses China on North Korea.

That means that Trump will not try to build a warm rapport with Xi on the golf course as he did when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan visited Mar-a-Lago in February.

While Xi is known to be an avid soccer fan bent on transforming China into a great soccer power, the Chinese Communist Party's contempt for golf as a rich man's game places him at odds with Trump, who owns more than a dozen golf courses and whose so-called Winter White House, the Mar-a-Lago club, charges more than $200,000 for membership.

Under Xi's leadership, a crackdown on corruption has depicted golf as a temptation that led party officials astray. Dozens of courses across the country have been shut in recent years, ostensibly to preserve water and arable lands.

Although as many as 1 million people in China, not necessarily part of the wealthy elite, play golf, the game has become a symbol of capitalist excesses and corruption in the eyes of the Communist Party. That view goes back to 1949, when Mao Zedong declared golf the "sport for millionaires."

Members of the Communist Party may avoid spending time on the links, but Trump's golf properties have prospered since his election, prompting accusations of conflict of interest.

What might Trump and Xi do instead of playing golf over the two-day visit?

"It's possible that they'll walk around a bit, as the mood strikes," the White House statement said, "but nothing formal or nothing involving golf clubs."

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