Many daily publications have cartoons, especially political cartoons. They often contain a wealth of political knowledge, making the majority of them fascinating to examine. Patrick Chapatte’s cartoon named When Trump Met Xi is one such example. The cartoon was published in the New York Times, one of America’s daily newspapers, on April 7, 2017.
The animation includes the phrases “you must protect the volatile little dictator!” and “which one?” Its caption, which appears under the cartoon, reads, “President Trump invited Chinese President Xi Jinping to Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s estate in Palm Beach, Fla., on Thursday night.” The cartoon shows four people. However, the main people who are the cartoonist’s focus are United States’ President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping. The cartoon drawing features two other individuals who seem to be the two presidents’ personal assistants.
The political cartoon shows President Trump in casual dressing, a blue polo neck shirt and blue trousers with gray sports shoes and a black belt around his waist. He is dressed like someone heading to play golf. His body language depicts a disturbed man. His face shows that he is bored or worked up, with eyes slightly closed and mouth twisted. On his left hand, he is holding a portrait of Kim Jong Un. The portrait Trump is holding shows only Kim’s face looking very annoyed and frustrated. Both Trump and Xi are on seated adjacent to each other on chairs that look alike, however, besides Trump’s seat are golf woods and ball. Behind both Trump and Xi are men who seem to be following up on the engagement that is going on between the two leaders.
The cartoon shows the meeting taking place at a venue that looks so lavish or palatial. The walls are well decorated with large arches and curtains that draw apart. Apart from the decorations on the walls, the room has some beautiful chandeliers hanging from the top. The floor of the room is covered with a red carpet. The venue of the meeting that the cartoonist shows in this particular cartoon is Mar-a-Lago which is one of President Trump’s lash properties.
In the cartoon, President Xi Jinping is seated almost opposite President Trump is donning official dressing, a black suit that’s complete with a necktie and formal black shoes. From his body language, he looks worked up and bored with what Trump is telling and showing him. He is looking away from the image that Trump is holding showing him. The caption on Xi’s head reads “which one?” He is responding to Trump’s request “You must stop the unpredictable little tyrant!” Both presidents do not seem okay discussing Kim which could be the reason why the cartoonist chose to use the portrait of Kim and word captions in the cartoon.
The cartoonist did an excellent job in representing the informal setting of Mar-a-Lago as a place that can be termed as representing the risk of the two presidents meeting. Apparently, the meeting failed to take place at the White House like one would expect since Xi failed to stop at the White House. Xi banned the party leaders from playing golf leading to closing down of several golf courses in China as a bid to crack down on corruption. By showing President Trump dressed in golf attire and further having the golf woods and stick is a mock to China’s president. Before China’s president visit, in February, Trump entertained Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his estate. However, it is only after both leaders met at the White House that they headed to Mar-a-Lago where they played twenty-seven holes of golf at Trump-branded golf courses (Chicago Tribune).
The cartoonist represented the unorthodox location of the meeting of the two leaders. Like the first meeting between the two, it would be expected that they have a more formal meeting. The informality is well captured in the cartoon through Trumps dressing ready to play golf since he is in full golf attire and with the wood and ball resting beside him. President Trump had initially offered conflicting signals regarding his state of mind concerning the Summit (Chicago Tribune). He had indicated that he bears a lot of respect for China’s President Xi but he later said that the meeting would not be an easy one due to the United States trade deficit with China.
The look on the two presidents’ faces gives an indication perhaps of how difficult the meeting is getting. With the two leaders having now eye contact as they address each other instead both have angry faces facing away from each other. During an interview with the Financial Times, Trump indicated that he would urge Xi to put more pressure on Pyongyang to stop its nuclear ballistic missile testing since it a violation of regulations set by the U.N. Security Council (Chicago Tribune). One of the administration’s options according to experts include sanctions on any Chinese banks that conduct business with Pyongyang in a bid to limit the flow of capital to the North Korean dictator Kim’s government.
In the cartoon, when Trump Tell Xi “You must stop the unpredictable little tyrant!” while holding Kim’s portrait, Xi responds “which one?” while looking away from the image with his face showing annoyance. It indicates that President Xi is not ready to deal with Kim like President Trump wants of him. He is not okay with putting the pressure on Kim and not even willing to discuss the issue of Kim with Trump. Almost ninety percent of North Korea’s trade is with China. It means that imposing the sanction on the Chinese banks that do business with Pyongyang in a bid to limit the flow of capital to Kim’s regime means that China would lose a lot in terms of trade. President Xi seems not ready and unwilling to lose the economic leverage his country enjoys with North Korea.
Before becoming the president of the U.S., as a candidate, Trump had indicated that how would impose huge tariffs on Chinese goods. Such threats did not certainly go down well with the Chinese and asking Xi to deal with Kim’s regime with which they enjoy good economic leverage would be unacceptable to Xi. The two issues plus the informal setting with which the meeting took place are a clue to how much the meeting between the two leaders was not an easy one. The cartoonist’s cartoon of the two leaders meeting is an excellent piece that represents the meeting so well giving a clear picture of how the meeting was awkward.
Chicago Tribune. At Mar-a-Lago, Trump Welcomes China’s Xi for High-Stakes Inaugural Summit. 6 April 2017. Web. 22 April 2017.