Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday met his US counterpart Rex Tillerson for the first time since Trump's inauguration.
Tillerson reaffirmed the one-China policy and said differences should be dealt with in a constructive way. Reuters reported that Tillerson urged China "to use all available tools to moderate North Korea's destabilizing behavior."
The meeting sends a positive signal about Sino-US relations, consolidating ties following an earlier phone call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump. It brought back certainties in the bilateral relations, resuming the communication mechanism between the top diplomats of the two countries.
Washington has recently sent strong signals that it is willing to maintain the existing framework of Sino-US ties. The alarm set off by the phone call between Trump and Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen seems to have subsided by now and the two countries are going to face the old challenges that have been haunting them.
Trump has made a show of his personality and now rules seem to override his personality. Yet many of Trump's counselors hold strong prejudice against China. The rise of China also deepened a sense of crisis among the US elites.
Some projections can be made. First, the recent frictions would leave their mark on the Sino-US relations and it is unlikely that we will witness another round of fluctuation caused by idealism within the Trump administration.
Second, the Trump administration and China have yet to start negotiations on specific topics. The "America First" principle is going to emerge at some point to test China's tolerance. Trump does not have more leverage against China than Barack Obama but it will take time for him to understand that.
Third, the North Korean nuclear issue is more complex and urgent than before, especially now with the deployment of THAAD. Trump has clearly not figured out how to react to Pyongyang but Washington will make Beijing its "scapegoat." The uncertainties on the Korean Peninsula and in US foreign policy demand China to make sufficient preparations.
Fourth, Trump may be more persistent on some interests but less concerned about issues like human rights. His war with mainstream media makes it difficult for Trump to ally with the media on ideological front against China. Many have predicted that Trump's presidency would exacerbate the recession of liberalism.
As long as China and the US maintain the non-confrontational framework, cooperation will grow. Although the bilateral ties had hit some bumps in the road, the restraining factors that prevent the two countries from having a clash are also growing.