A meeting that showed the world that confrontation between the two powers was not inevitable was how the Chinese state media on Saturday described and cheered the meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
After earlier “confusing signals” from Washington about how it was approaching the U.S.-China relationship, it was encouraging to see the two-day summit that ended on Friday “going as well as it could”, the official China Daily newspaper said.
Before taking office, President Trump had talked to the president of Taiwan, the self-ruled island Beijing claims as its own and had campaigned with strident anti-China rhetoric which had angered Beijing.
Both parties appeared “equally enthusiastic about the constructive relationship they have promised to cultivate”, China Daily said.
“This may sound surreal to those preoccupied with an ‘inescapable’ conflict scenario between what they see as rising and incumbent powers,” the newspaper wrote in an editorial.
“But that Beijing and Washington have so far managed to do well in preventing conflicts shows confrontation is not inevitable.”
The meeting “served as an indicator that the China-U.S. relationship is still very much on course since the Trump administration took office in January”, and it was likely the two nations would develop a more “pragmatic relationship”, state-run Chinese tabloid Global Times said.
“It seems that both countries have understood the importance of how essential a smooth transition needs to be, and not just for the two countries involved here, but really for the entire world over,” it said.
The meeting established the tone for the development of U.S.-China relations, said a front-page commentary in the overseas edition of the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily.
However, mention of the U.S. missile strike on a Syrian government airbase, which overshadowed the summit, was not made.
The move may have had the added bonus in Trump’s eyes of sending North Korea a message over its nuclear program, but that China was unlikely to be fazed, said Wang Dong, Associate Professor of International Studies at China’s elite Peking University.
“There are great differences between the Syria situation and the Korean peninsula situation,” Wang said, noting North Korea’s conventional military capability to strike back at South Korea in the event of U.S. military action.
“Any use of force or preemptive strikes against North Korea will carry huge ramifications, which would probably lead to a drastically different outcome compared to Syria,” Wang said.
In the talks, the two agreed to a 100-day plan for trade talks aimed at boosting U.S. exports and reducing the gaping U.S. trade deficit with Beijing and Trump pressed Xi to do more to curb North Korea’s nuclear program.
To end what they see as discriminatory trade policies, U.S. industry had hoped Trump would deliver a strong message to Xi behind closed doors. They had also hoped that he would not do anything rash to spark a trade war.
In what appeared to be a reimagining of the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue held under President Barack Obama, as well as security and diplomatic issues, U.S. and Chinese officials initiated new dialogue mechanisms on economic issues, said state news agency Xinhua in an outcome likely to play well in China.
(Adapted from Reuters)