"Fruitful" Xi-Trump meeting charts course of China-U.S. ties under global gaze

Xinhua Published: 2017-04-08 19:51:40
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Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, wrapped up their first meeting on Friday and set a constructive tone for the future development of China-U.S. relations.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump take a walk to further discuss bilateral cooperation issues in the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, the United States, April 7, 2017. The two leaders held their second round of talks here on Friday. [Photo: Xinhua/Lan Hongguang]

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump take a walk to further discuss bilateral cooperation issues in the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, the United States, April 7, 2017. The two leaders held their second round of talks here on Friday. [Photo: Xinhua/Lan Hongguang]

During Xi's two-day trip to the southeastern U.S. coastal town of Palm Beach, the leaders of the world's top two economies compared notes on a wide range of topics for more than seven hours altogether and agreed to expand win-win cooperation and manage differences on the basis of mutual respect.

The tete-a-tete, which took place in an aura of cordiality in what Trump calls the "Southern White House," also cultivated a sound working relationship and personal rapport between the two leaders, who preside over what many describe as the most important bilateral relationship in today's world.

Both sides agree that the meeting, which has drawn worldwide attention against the backdrop of mounting uncertainties on the bilateral and international horizons, "was positive and fruitful," said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Among other achievements, the two sides initiated the comprehensive economic dialogue and the diplomatic and security dialogue, which make up the four-pronged dialogue mechanism they have newly established along with the law enforcement and cybersecurity dialogue and the social and cultural issues dialogue.

Noting that the two countries have become each other's biggest trading partner, Xi pointed out that as China pushes forward supply-side structural reform and maintains sound development momentum, China-U.S. trade and economic cooperation enjoys a bright prospect, and the two sides should seize the opportunity.

"China welcomes the U.S. side to participate in cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative," said the Chinese president, referring to the vision he proposed in 2013 of building an infrastructure and trade network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient land and maritime Silk Road routes.

The two sides also agreed to deepen communication and cooperation in military, immigration, health care and many other areas, including Beijing's efforts to pursue fugitives who have fled abroad.

The meeting is of "unique significance" to the development of China-U.S. relations, said Xi.

"I think we have made tremendous progress in our relationship with China," commented Trump. "And I think, truly, progress has been made. We'll be making a lot of additional progress."

The Trump administration went a long way to prepare for the meeting, which came within the first 100 days of the new U.S. presidency and was labeled by the New York Times as "the most important diplomatic encounter of his presidency so far."

On Thursday, U.S. First Lady Melania Trump donned a red dress to welcome Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, to the Mar-a-Lago estate, a color that symbolizes happiness and prosperity in Chinese culture. The Trumps also arranged a small family party for the Chinese guests.

Even Arabella and Joseph, children of Trump's daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, joined the gathering, singing Chinese folksong "Jasmine" and reciting verses from the "Three-Character Classic" and Chinese classic poetry.

Xi and Trump also took a stroll in the picturesque, 90-year-old estate on the Atlantic coast, a location which the White House said was chosen to give the two-day meeting a more relaxed feeling.

To reciprocate the hospitality, Xi extended an invitation to Trump for a state visit to China later this year, which the U.S. president accepted with pleasure.

"Both the atmosphere, the chemistry between the two leaders was positive," said U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at a press briefing.

"I think all of us are feeling very good about the results of this summit in terms of what it did for setting a very constructive tone going forward," added Tillerson.

Commenting on the widely-watched Xi-Trump meeting, David Gosset, a Paris-based global affairs analyst and Sinologist, noted that in a spirit of productive pragmatism, the two leaders "stayed focused on the indispensable cooperation between China and the U.S.."

Taking into consideration the complexities of China-U.S. relations as well as Trump's campaign rhetoric, the Mar-a-Lago meeting "can be seen as a success," he told Xinhua.

Su Ge, head of the China Institute of International Studies, a leading think tank in China, said Friday that to such large nations as China and the United States, disagreements are natural, and the key is how to handle them.

"The two nations need to take a long-term perspective, and never allow any single moment or incident to rock the foundation of their relations," Su added.

Forty-five years after they broke the ice between them, China and the United States have now become highly interdependent with their interests getting increasingly intertwined. Bilateral trade reached 519.6 billion U.S. dollars last year, with two-way investment exceeding 170 billion dollars. They have more than 200 pairs of sister cities, and 14,000 people travel between them every day on average.

"There are a thousand reasons to make the China-U.S. relationship work, and no reason to break it," said the Chinese president.

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