Trump's Mar-a-Lago meeting with China's Xi Jinping raises ethics concerns

(CBS NEWS) -- President Trump’s first face-to-face meeting today with China’s leader, Xi Jinping, will take place at Mar-a-Lago, the president’s family-owned resort in Florida. The laid-back setting is meant to give the two world leaders a chance to build a rapport, but government ethics experts question whether that’s appropriate.

Past presidents have hosted key leaders at government-owned properties like Camp David, but Mr. Trump is giving a personal touch for Xi.

The U.S.-China relationship has been under pressure over trade, North Korea and China’s expansion in the South China Sea.

As a candidate, Mr. Trump repeatedly blasted China, accusing Beijing of unfair trade practices that he equated to “rape” and “theft,” reports CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan. 

“We give state dinners to the heads of China. I said, ‘Why are you doing state dinners for them?’ They’re ripping us left and right,” Mr. Trump said.
 
Today the president tries to reboot the relationship by welcoming China’s president and his wife to Mar-a-Lago.
 
“It’s a venue that connotes the U.S. president is interested in building a personal relationship with Xi Jinping,” said Evan Medeiros, former National Security Commission China director in the Obama administration. 

Between trade disputes and the threat of North Korea, the two leaders have plenty to discuss. But exactly where those conversations take place became a concern to Congress after Mr. Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appeared to openly discuss North Korea’s missile test over dinner in February.

MORE: Expand this story & read more at CBSNEWS.com

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