In touting his recent meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping, United States President Donald Trump may have inadvertently evoked a term from China’s past that is synonymous with that nation’s killing of tens of millions of its own citizens.
On Monday morning, Trump lauded his discussions with Xi as moving trade negotiations forward.
“My meeting in Argentina with President Xi of China was an extraordinary one. Relations with China have taken a BIG leap forward!” Trump wrote. “Very good things will happen.”
The term “leap forward,” however, is reminiscent of a plan crafted by China’s leaders in the middle of the last century. The “Great Leap Forward” was an economic and social plan to modernize China, but which actually led to millions of deaths, according to reporting from the Washington Post.
Part of that program sought to force villagers across the vast nation to live in communes with others. Doing so had unintended negative consequences for farming, and in combination to unfortunate weather patterns at the time, led to an enormous famine across China. Estimated death tolls due to starvation (as well as state-sponsored killings against citizens who resisted the changes) range from 20 million to 45 million.
The Chinese government, however, has historically blamed the deaths solely on the weather issues and not the program that was instituted.
— The Hill (@thehill) December 3, 2018
It’s unclear if Trump’s statement was meant to be a dig at Xi and his nation’s history or if it was coincidental/accidental. Either way, usage of the terminology is not likely to sit well with leaders of that nation’s government.
Trump added within the same tweet touting the “big leap forward” that both sides would do well to continue cooperating with one another.
“We are dealing from great strength, but China likewise has much to gain if and when a deal is completed. Level the field!”
Within their discussion at the G20 summit, the U.S. and China agreed not to level any more tariffs against one another. News of the trade “ceasefire” was welcomed on Wall Street. As of Monday morning, Dow Jones stocks had jumped by 400 points, according to reporting from CNN.
Before the agreement was reached at the G20 summit between the two nations, Trump had planned to implement even higher tariffs of 25 percent on some Chinese-imported goods if a trade deal couldn’t be brokered between the U.S. and China before January 1 of next year. Both sides agreed to reach a deal within 90 days, per additional reporting from CNN.