NPR

Analysis: The Politics Of National Humiliation In The Trump-Xi Meeting

Under the Communist Party's ideological reeducation of China's population, humiliation by foreign powers forms an emotional underpinning of the country's national identity.
President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands during a business leaders event in Beijing on Nov. 9, 2017. The two leaders are expected to discuss trade at this week's Group of 20 summit in Japan. Source: Nicolas Asfouri

Humiliation. In China, it is a word laden with history and identity that is playing a role in the high-stakes trade war between the U.S. and China.

This month, I was visiting China with a small group of journalists for 10 days, and the word "humiliation" came up over and over again in conversations both public and private, in meetings with top government officials, university scholars, think tankers and corporate executives.

The Chinese clearly like to play the humiliation card. Almost all of them shared the feelings of disrespect and humiliation that course through or threatens President Xi Jinping with tariffs. Both country's leaders go head-to-head this week at the Group of 20 summit in Japan.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR2 min readWellness
China Hurriedly Building Quarantine Center In Effort To Contain Wuhan Virus
Hundreds of workers were told to get the center near the city of Wuhan built in under a week as authorities cope with the new viral pneumonia that has killed 26 people and infected 876 others.
NPR7 min readPolitics
Transcript: NPR's Full Interview With Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talks to NPR's Mary Louise Kelly about U.S. policy in Iran and about Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
NPR3 min readTech
'Please Help Me.' What People In China Are Saying About The Outbreak On Social Media
Residents in Wuhan and other Chinese cities affected by the Wuhan coronavirus are using platforms like Weibo to share their fears and frustrations.