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Evan Vucci

White House expects to pressure China through Trump's Twitter feed

After Donald Trump embarrassed himself repeatedly with China, the American president became the subject of mockery in China's state-run media. One headline in April read, "Trump slaps self in face, again."

The U.S. leader nevertheless continues to struggle to settle on a posture, going back and forth between praising Beijing and expressing his "disappointment" with the country over its inability to deal with North Korea in a way the White House likes.

This week, in an unsigned editorial in the English-language newspaper China Daily, the government sounded an exasperated note. "Trump is wrong in his assumption that Beijing can single-handedly handle the matter," it read. "As Beijing has said, repeatedly, it does not have the kind of 'control' over Pyongyang that the U.S. president believes it does."

So, what's the White House's next move? Apparently, as TPM noted, Team Trump has some possible tweets in mind.

White House adviser Sebastian Gorka said Thursday that President Donald Trump's Twitter feed could apply sufficient pressure on the Chinese government to force them to intervene in North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

"What card left do you have to get China to act?" Fox News' Bill Hemmer asked Gorka, after referencing an op-ed in a state-owned Chinese newspaper that downplayed the influence China has over North Korea. [...]

"We have the President's Twitter feed," Gorka responded.

When the Fox host suggested that Chinese officials may not be swayed by presidential tweets, Gorka responded, "If you can win a U.S. election with it, I think it's pretty powerful."

I don't think he was kidding.

And that's a shame because the argument is plainly bonkers. China is a major global power, which in recent months has come to see Donald Trump, in a rather literal sense, as a joke. The American president has struggled to maintain a coherent line on all kinds of issues related to China -- currency manipulation, North Korean diplomacy, the fate of the "One-China" policy, etc. -- and by all appearances, the foreign-policy dynamic is getting worse, not better.

For a prominent White House official to believe Trump will somehow persuade China to come around to his way of thinking through poorly written online missives -- complete with random use of capitalized letters and an over-emphasis on exclamation points -- suggests Trump World, after just six months in office, really is out of ideas.