Mar-a-Lago meeting gives impetus to further Sino-US cooperation

By Ng Yau Man David Source:Global Times Published: 2017/4/11 21:13:39

The Mar-a-Lago meeting between China's President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart, Donald Trump has just concluded. Not every problem in the bilateral relations was solved, but the two leaders have developed several communications mechanisms between their respective countries for the near future.

Just a week before the summit, Trump signed an executive order to conduct a study into the causes of US trade deficits and a clampdown on import duty evasion.

The US Department of Commerce also declared to review the dumping of foreign products, unfair export subsidies in foreign countries, "misaligned" currencies and other unfair trade practices. Some analysts saw those measures as mainly aimed at China.

The US measures can also be regarded as an aggressive act or a bargaining tactic which Trump tends to adopt before a conversation with his foreign counterparts.

Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is Trump's personal estate, where he met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe not long ago and where Trump will likely meet leaders of other countries in the future.

Personal diplomacy is an approach which the billionaire-turned-President prefers to use to start his bilateral negotiations.

Trump was not a member of the political elites before he assumed office. Until now, he has scores of political opponents and protestors in his own country.

The Chinese officials are certainly aware of this. Xi's recent trip to the US, which was not a state visit, reveals that China is willing to negotiate with Trump and his administration.

During the summit, the two leaders sat down and talked with each other. They were reported to have exchanged opinions over bilateral trade, the North Korean nuclear crisis and other common concerns. The two Presidents agreed to a "100-day action plan" on bilateral trade, with "way stations of accomplishment."

Seemingly, China will increase its import from the US and boost direct investment into the latter. The US should also sell more products that China needs.

Xi stopped in Alaska on his homeward journey. There can be speculation that China is going to cooperate with the sparsely populated state to the northwest of Canada on some natural resource projects.

Under different political systems, the US and China have close economic relations since the two countries are economically complementary. But then, neither can benefit from a trade war.

Just before the summit, US navy destroyers had fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base. Many analysts referred to the strike against Syria as a warning to North Korea.

But the two sides appeared to be at odds over how to deal with North Korea's nuclear missile program. Trump threatened unilateral action, and probably a pre-emptive strike against Pyongyang.

As I am writing this article, Wu Dawei, China's special representative for the Korean peninsula, is visiting Pyongyang and the US has sent a carrier-led strike group toward the peninsula, demonstrating its military power against North Korea.

As reported, the meeting between Xi and Trump lasted a total of seven hours in Mar-a-Lago, revealing that the two leaders' communications can be both lengthy and in-depth.

Asia-pacific countries are concerned about the outcome of the bilateral meeting in Florida. As we know, Abe made two phone calls to Trump since the end of the meeting. Yet, no joint communiqué or agreement between the two countries was released or signed.

However, it is important for the leaders of the two world powers to build their friendship, working relationship and mutual trust through this summit. In this way, the two countries can avoid confrontation and conflict.

This also makes it easier to further develop the Sino-US relationship. In some senses, the summit can be considered as a stepping stone for bilateral ties. From that place, the two countries' relations can move forward.

The author is a commentator based in Hong Kong.


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