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The debacle in Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital, where Mr. Trump not only failed to strike a disarmament deal but also was miles apart from Mr. Kim, laid bare a fundamental weakness in his deal making: his belief that bluster and force of personality can bridge deep-rooted differences and lack of preparation.
It also showed that strongmen, whom Mr. Trump has so ardently cultivated, can be as frustrating to negotiate with as democratically elected leaders.
Even more than Mr. Kim, Mr. Xi would bring a complex mix of advantages and vulnerabilities to a meeting with Mr. Trump. Rather than calibrating his approach to those realities, some worry the president will fall prey to the same pitfalls and miscalculations that doomed his meeting with the North Korean dictator.
The Chinese share those qualms. Plans for the two leaders to meet at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump's estate in Palm Beach, Fla., at the end of March are now on hold, largely because the Chinese fear that the president could walk out on Mr. Xi like he did on Mr. Kim.