"The General Secretary does not golf. When Xi Jinping, the Chinese President, assumed control of the Communist Party, in 2012, golf was a popular pastime for wealthy dealmakers. But in an effort to restore the image of public servants, which had been damaged by reports of corruption, Xi closed hundreds of courses and barred members of the Party from playing the game using public money. So, on Thursday, when the Chinese leader pays his first call on President Trump, at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s members-only club in Palm Beach, he will not be replicating the experience of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who gave Trump a putter as a gift and recently played a round with him at Trump International, his nearby course.
Xi might be doing Trump a favor: taking some time away from the golf course, to consider the global economy and the threat of nuclear weapons, might be wise. As late-night comedians have noticed, our new President is golfing, on average, every five and a half days—twice as frequently as President Obama, whose love of the links Trump often mocked. (‘Can you believe that, with all of the problems and difficulties facing the U.S., President Obama spent the day playing golf. Worse than Carter,’ he tweeted in 2014.)
But Trump’s first China summit may well push the White House off its game in more complicated ways. China occupies a prominent, but loosely defined, place in Trump’s world view. As a candidate, Trump rarely delivered a speech without accusing China of abusing the United States with unfair trade practices and by depressing the value of its currency. ‘We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country,’ he told a crowd in Indiana. Although many experts can cite cases of unfair Chinese trade and investment practices, Trump’s portrait of systematic exploitation was misleading. Between 2003 and 2012, for example, the state of Iowa nearly quintupled its exports to China. Its exports to the rest of the world grew barely a quarter as fast. Like Trump’s rhetoric on immigration and refugees, his campaign statements about China succeeded because they conveniently claimed that the struggles of hardworking Americans had vague, foreign origins."