Substance to words

  • Xi-Trump meeting can chart course for constructive ties

Apr 7, 2017-

Until the NATO meeting was rescheduled, there was hullabaloo over US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson planning to skip the NATO foreign ministers meeting in order to attend the meeting between the Chinese and US presidents. Many interpreters were unanimous on one point: The Trump administration was attaching more importance to relations with China than those with NATO.

While this may be an over-interpretation, it does reveal the truth that Beijing and Washington share an eagerness to ballast their ties. But the first face-to-face meeting between President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump is charged with charting a cooperative course for a relationship that is more difficult to define and manage. Considering the vicissitudes in bilateral ties after Trump took office, the conciliatory tone adopted since offers optimism the two leaders can use their meeting to eliminate any lingering sense of uncertainty.

Xi has on many occasions reiterated Beijing’s aspiration for a relationship of “no confrontation, no conflict, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation”. Besides exchanging viewpoints on the potentially most inflammable flashpoints in ties, the two leaders will likely discuss the global economic situation and their trade relations. Although Xi and Trump have talked twice on the phone and exchanged vows to work together for better ties, their meeting next week offers them the opportunity to step up to the plate and give substance to their words.

Published: 07-04-2017 08:02

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