DONALD Trump used “power flexing” in a bid to intimidate the Chinese leader Xi Jinping when the pair met at the G20 summit, according to a body language expert.
The US president displayed a “state of aggressive arousal”, says Judi James, as he sought to assert himself at the beginning of their crunch trade talks.
The leaders met at the end of the summit in Osaka and after the President said relations “were back on track” with threat of $300 billion worth tariffs on Chinese goods lifted.
The US President has in the past professed his admiration for his Chinese counterpart and fellow strongman and last year said “Xi and I will always be friend” despite their differences.
But Judi said that didn’t prevent Trump trying to get one over on Xi by a display of aggressive body language.
“He arrived with his jacket undone, which could have been seen as a slight by the formally buttoned-up Xi,” she said.
“Xi offered an outstretched arm with a very open palm, suggesting an enthusiastic welcome but Trump pulled his hand out of the shake quickly and turned to the front to perform a series of physical power-flexing rituals.
“Trump buttoned his jacket while his torso shimmied and then squared up as though he was preparing for a fight.
“He splayed his shoulders and his feet and stood with his arms hanging at his sides in what looked like a state of aggressive arousal, which in alpha terms is more about looking tough to intimidate opponents and therefore avoid an actual fight.”
“As Trump squared up his body his narrowed eyes stared hard at the cameras before scanning the room and his lower jaw jutted slightly in another signal of prepping for a fight.”
Before the meeting got underway she said “their second shake was instigated by Trump who added a power-pat gesture onto Xi’s back”.
At the start of their meeting two leaders sat at a long table, with Trump and Xi facing each other, aides at their side to the right and left.
Xi Jingping began by referring to the so-called ping-pong diplomacy that began in 1971 that eventually led to the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and China in 1979.
In his opening remarks, Trump fondly recalled his 2017 visit to Beijing, calling it “one of the most incredible of my life”.
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“We have had a lot of time together. We’ve become friends,” Trump told Xi.
Judi said Trump was displaying the behaviour of someone who valued his fellow leader’s friendship.
“Nodding gently, Trump sounded like a man trying to avoid a divorce,” she said.
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