Trump drops China bashing during warm Xi summit

Chinese President Xi Jinping today told his American counterpart Donald Trump that there were "a thousand reasons" to make the Sino-US ties work and "no reason" to break them as they met for the first time amid tensions over trade and North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

President Donald Trump pressed Chinese President Xi Jinping to do more to curb North Korea's nuclear program and help reduce the gaping US trade deficit with Beijing in talks on Friday, even as he toned down the strident anti-China rhetoric of his election campaign.

He also issued a thinly veiled warning that Beijing should help rein in the North, saying the US would act alone otherwise. Nevertheless, no major deal is expected to happen during the Trump-Xi meeting.

Compared with such pre-summit tough talk, however, what turned out from the 24 hours of meetings was bland. "I think that it will only inflame the view from Pyongyang", retired Adm. James Stavridis told NBC News.

The top American diplomat also said there was no "package arrangement" on the issue.

The Chinese president also underlined the role of four newly-established high-level mechanisms for dialogue and cooperation between China and the United States in such areas as diplomacy and security, economy, law enforcement and cyber security, as well as social and people-to-people exchanges.

Trump and Xi might have seemed cordial toward each other at a banquet on Friday, but it was about the same time that Trump attacked Syrian military facilities, which was "embarrassing" for Xi, because China has spoken against USA military intervention in Syria, Fan said.

"Expecting any big breakthrough announcements would have been a mistake".

"This signaled to China that Washington's "one China" policy is different from Beijing's "one China" principle, and that there is not much room for the United States to make concessions on Taiwan affairs, which are not to be bargained with", Tsai said.

Some within US industry had suggested those earlier talks yielded little substance, and urged the Trump administration to scrap them until Beijing displayed more initiative to address complaints about its industrial policies.

As The Canary previously reported, the Trump Administration has turned its foreign policy gun towards China, along with countries like Iran and North Korea. That may prove to be nothing much.

"The fact that Taiwan was not on the agenda was the best we could have hoped for", National Taiwan Normal University political science professor Fan Shih-ping (范世平) said. China is North Korea's most important ally and trading partner, and a significant source of its weapons, food and energy.

"It should have been obvious In the White House pre-briefings, repeatedly lowering expectations and saying that this is about "getting to know each other" that few concrete results would be achieved", Robert Manning, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

The seemingly harmonious atmosphere during Thursday and Friday's meeting was contrived, Tsai said, because a post-meeting news conference held by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson revealed that fundamental issues between the US and China need to be addressed, such as the US' trade deficit with China and Beijing's breach of worldwide convention by military expansion into the South China and East China seas. "I'm not advocating pre-emptive war, nor do I think that the deployment of nuclear weapons buys more for us than it costs", but he stressed that the USA was dealing with a "war today" situation.

Trump would say he's simply flexible, an emerging foreign policy doctrine that leaves room for evolution and uncertainty.

As the two leaders wrapped up a Florida summit overshadowed by US missile strikes in Syria overnight, Xi joined Trump in stressing the positive mood of the meetings while papering over deep differences that have caused friction between the world's two biggest economies.

The swift action in Syria could be interpreted as a signal especially to defiant nuclear-armed North Korea - and by extension, its ally China - as well as other countries like Iran and Russian Federation of Trump's willingness to use military force if deemed necessary.

  • Larry Hoffman