United States President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with two Asian leaders within the next two or three weeks, meetings with such great significance for us in the Philippines.
He will meet North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un in Vietnam on February 27-28, to follow up on their recent meeting in which North Korea called for a “denuclearization” of the entire Korean Peninsula. This would end North Korea’s threats to send nuclear missiles to the US mainland, which would set off a nuclear war that would certainly involve the Philippines, Japan, China, and Korea’s other neighbors.
The US president is also meeting China President Xi Jinping if they are to reach agreement on their trade war which has slowed down economic growth not only in the two countries, but also in nations like the Philippines which export to the two. After imposing retaliatory tariffs on each other’s exports, they recently suspended any further moves and set a March 1 deadline to achieve a trade deal.
Although these expected meetings directly affect us in the Philippines, it is a domestic American issue that continues to hold the world’s attention – whether the US federal government will have to shut down again on February 15 – two days from today.
Over 800,000 US federal employees had to stop working as most federal agencies, notably Homeland Security, had to close down at midnight of Friday, December 2, 2018, as President Trump refused to sign the budget approved by Congress because it did not contain $5.7 billion he demanded for a wall he wanted to build along the US-Mexico border.
After several weeks during which work stopped or slowed down in many US agencies, including airports, Trump agreed to reopen the closed government agencies but only up to February 15. On that day, the reopened agencies may have to close down and their workers sent home again. It all depends on President Trump — whether he will yield on his wall or take a stand in the face of Congress’ refusal to appropriate $5.7 billion for it.
In his State of the Union address last Tuesday, February 5, President Trump called on Washington to cast aside “revenge, resistance, and retribution” – referring to the wall controversy. And he called for an end to “ridiculous partisan investigations” – referring to the congressional probe of Russian involvement in the Trump presidential campaign in 2016.
On his border wall, he vowed, “I will build it,” but said nothing about the February 15 deadline he gave for a resumption of the government shutdown if Congress continues to deny him the $5.7 billion to build it.
That is on Friday midnight – that would be Saturday noon, Manila time – and the world will see if the United States, the world’s lone superpower, looked upon by the rest of the world’s nations, including ours, with the greatest respect, will be able to solve its problem over a wall.