Trump infuriated China by taking a protocol-breaking phone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and suggesting he might break from the US's long-standing One China Policy, which nominally acknowledges the Asian giant's claims over Taiwan without recognising them. Mr. Xi for his part has stepped up as an unlikely champion of free markets and open global trade as the new US government pursues its "America First" agenda.

On the topic of China's impact on the environment, 63% of Democrats consider it to be a major concern, compared with just 44% of Republicans.

Trump built a reputation not just through his candidacy, but over decades in business by talking tough on China, calling for firm action on trade and lampooning multiple USA presidents for showing weakness in their interactions.

But for all his criticisms, Mr. Trump also faces the challenge of trying to find common ground with Beijing on other fronts, most notably on North Korea.

President Trump in Washington on March 28 and Chinese President Xi Jinping on February 22 in Beijing.

Earlier this week, Trump threatened to deal with North Korea with or without Beijing's help.

Often, North Korea's missile tests appear scheduled around events in foreign countries-South Koreans go to the polls May 9 to replace the impeached Park Geun-hye. China vehemently opposes THAAD, which it fears could be used for USA espionage on its activities as much as for targeting North Korean missiles. But he'll still want to prove his "very big relationships" with China are more than hot air.

The approach to China by the Trump administration has been a point of constant speculation, due to the unusual nature of Trump's singular focus on the country throughout his presidential campaign and reality TV career.

Trump, who rarely stays on message and regularly bashes China on Twitter. "I think it's in Beijing's interest".

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President Trump's reputation as someone likely to throw around big words and send off tweets, as well as his obvious lack of experience and connection with East Asia in general and Taiwan in particular, have anxious many that he might just use Taiwan as a bargaining chip to obtain concessions from Beijing on issues like trade and North Korea.

South Korea has successfully test-fired a home-developed ballistic missile with a range long enough to hit any part of North Korea, Yonhap news agency reported Thursday.

The problem for years has been the lack of a coherent US policy regarding China. -China summit in more than a decade. "The U.S. should be content if China continues this policy".

"Of course, once you make that declaratory policy, everything follows", Cha said, noting that North Korea would likely respond by pushing the envelope. So can Trump succeed where his predecessors have failed?

Bong Young-shik, researcher at the Institute for North Korean Studies at Seoul's Yonsei University, told the FT that Trump's comment probably is a "bargaining gambit" and a warning to Beijing and Pyongyang that "he can be as irrational as North Korea can be".

Trump prides himself on his ability to cut deals, but finding a palatable compromise for both sides won't be easy.

Patrick Cronin, a China expert with the Center for a New American Security, said the Trump administration does not have "a reconciled trade and economic policy yet, and the differing views on China in the White House underscore that".

"The theft of American prosperity will end", Trump said at the March 31 signing.