The Atlantic

How China’s President Could Bully Trump

Xi Jinping may take advantage of an inexperienced and untested American leader.
Source: Feng Li / Getty

When the new and relatively inexperienced U.S. president met the leader of the world’s second-most powerful nation in their first summit meeting, public smiles hid the battering that the American took behind closed doors. Sized up as a lightweight by the survivor of a brutal political scene, the U.S. president confided that “he beat the hell out of me.” Worse, the impression of weakness and uncertainty the president made led directly to military challenges that nearly plunged the two countries into armed conflict.

That president was John F. Kennedy, and his antagonist was the Soviet Union’s premier, Nikita Khrushchev. They met in Vienna in June 1961. This was just months after Kennedy had taken office, and he was subjected to a relentless attack by the seasoned and wily veteran of Stalin’s court. Kennedy and his aides were shaken by the encounter, and it showed. Despite America’s overwhelming position of economic

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