Although overshadowed by the U.S. strike on Syria, the meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping showed that confrontation between the two superpowers was not inevitable and that both sides appeared to be “equally enthusiastic about the constructive relationship they have promised to cultivate,” according to Chinese state-run media.
By all reports, the meetings between the two leaders were constructive and cordial with a frank exchange of views, according to the BBC. The U.S. president also accepted an invitation from President Xi to visit China later this year.
“Both the atmosphere and the chemistry between the two leaders was positive… all of us are feeling very good about the results of this summit,” said Mr Tillerson.
The leaders of the world’s two most powerful economies agreed to a 100-day plan to discuss trade talks directed at boosting US exports and reducing Washington’s trade deficit with China, according to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
“Given the range of issues and the magnitude, that may be ambitious, but it’s a very big sea change in the pace of discussion,” Mr Ross told reporters.
“I think that’s a very important symbolisation of the growing rapport between the two countries.”
Mr Trump said he believes he made “tremendous progress” in the US-China relationship during talks with Mr Xi.
An official propaganda organ of the Chinese government, China Daily, celebrated the cordial atmosphere of the meetings.
“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.”
State-run Chinese tabloid Global Times said 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”.
“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.
Their comments were echoed by a front-page commentary in the overseas edition of the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily which said the meeting established the tone for the development of U.S.-China relations.
Contrast this treatment of President Trump with the last time President Obama visited China. At the G-20 meeting last September, the Chinese forced Obama to exit his plane from the rear and were less than welcoming on the tarmac — a clear and calculated snub by the protocol-conscious Chinese.
Both men got some of what they wanted out of the meeting. Xi wished to establish the basis of a personal relationship with President Trump to show that growing a strong China-U.S. partnership was possible.
For his part, President Trump wanted to begin a negotiating process that could alter the way the two countries do business. He also wanted to show his critics that he was more than capable of holding his own while in the same room as the experienced Xi.
There will still be areas of disagreement, including Chinese actions in the South China Sea and their relationship with North Korea. But the two leaders got off to a promising start — much to the surprise of many who see the U.S. and China on a collision course that would inevitably lead to war.