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A pretty good summit

“Pretty good (挺好的)” is how a Chinese official is said to have described last week’s US-China summit in Florida. I’m tempted to go further and say that the meeting went very well.

The summit served its purpose of creating a rapport between the two leaders and setting up a framework for interacting going forward. Bureaucrats on both sides who have been lacking direction will now get to work fleshing out the details of the new four-pillared Comprehensive (Xi’s favorite word?) Dialogue (which I bet ends up looking a lot like the S&ED, with some other bilateral mechanisms like the JCCT rolled in).

The Chinese, not surprisingly, were exceedingly well prepared. More surprisingly given the early chaos in the Trump administration, the Americans also seemed on top of their game. This is in part because the rabid anti-China faction (see Navarro, Peter and Bannon, Steve) seems to have increasingly little sway over China policy. Instead the much more constructive Kushner and Tillerson have emerged as the point people on China policy.

Now comes the hard part

Trump’s vituperations have succeeded in convincing the Chinese that the status quo with regards to the economic relationship and North Korea are unacceptable. On the former, there looks like space for a mutually beneficial accommodation. The two sides promised to address trade issues in the next 100 days; this will likely lead to tangible results.

Both sides want to prove that they can work together. The also both want to gain concessions from the other side. My guess is that each side gives the other a few “wins” (a reduced tariff here, a relaxation of an export ban there) and they both declare victory to their respective constituencies. It’s not hard to envisage a legitimate “win-win” scenario. Ironically, after all his trade scepticism, Trump might actually oversee further liberalization (however slight) of trade between the two countries.

But on North Korea, the possibility of genuine cooperation looks much more unlikely. There is no obvious answer to the question of how to stop the Hermit Kingdom’s nuclear weapons program, even if the two sides did decide to work together. Right now the two sides’ positions are miles apart (Beijing wants talks, Washington wants more stringent sanctions). It’s unclear where we go from here. Stay tuned.


PBSC Week in Review
Xi Jinping

Party General Secretary; PRC President;

Apr 10 Xi met with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

Relations only recently restored after China broke them off after Liu Xiaobo was awarded Nobel Peace Prize.


Chairman of Central Military Commission   Xi sent condolences to Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi after the terrorist attacks in Tanta and Alexandria.


  Apr 9 Xi returned to Beijing.


  Apr 8 Xi sent a message of condolences to Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf in the wake of Friday’s deadly truck attack in Stockholm, Sweden.


    Xi appointed and dismissed ambassadors.

World Trade Organization, Guinea-Bissau.


  Apr 7 Xi held talks with United States President Donald Trump in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.


    Xi met with Alaska Governor Bill Walker in Anchorage, Alaska.


    Xi and Jordanian President King Abdullah II exchanged congratulatory messages on the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.


  Apr 6 Xi held talks with United States President Donald Trump in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.

They initiated two newly-installed dialogue mechanisms in economy and diplomacy and security.


    Xi and Peng Liyuan attended a welcome banquet in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.


  Apr 5 Xi held talks with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in Helsinki, Finland.


    Xi met with Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila in Helsinki, Finland.


    Xi met with Speaker of the Finnish Parliament Maria Lohela in Helsinki, Finland.


    Xi and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto met skaters’ representatives from China and Finland attending the World Figure Skating Championships 2017 in Helsinki, Finland.


  Apr 4 Xi called Serbian President-elect Aleksand Vucic on winning the presidential election.


    Xi extended condolences to families affected by the landslides that hit Mocoa, Colombia.


    Xi arrived in Helsinki, Finland.


  Apr 3 Xi published an article in Finnish newspaper Helsinki Times.

Full text of the article (in Chinese).


    Xi sent a congratulatory message to Francisco Guterres, also known as Lu-Olo, on being elected president of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste.


Li Keqiang


Apr 10 Zhang met with Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw.


    Zhang met with a delegation of United States senators lead by Steve Daines.


  Apr 8 Li sent a message of condolences to Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven over Friday’s deadly truck attack in Stockholm, Sweden.


  Apr 7 Li held talks with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

China and Norway normalized diplomatic relations and announced a package of cooperation initiatives ranging from resumption of free trade agreement negotiations, and science and technology to sports and health.


    Li and Jordanian Prime Minister Hani Al-Mulki exchanged congratulatory messages to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties.


Li met with WorldSkills International President Simon Bartley.


  Apr 5 Li chaired an executive meeting of the State Council.

The meeting laid out major tasks for economic system reform in 2017 and decided to further boost employment and entrepreneurship.


Zhang Dejiang

Chair of the

Apr 10 Zhang met with Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw.


National People’s Congress   Zhang met with a delegation of United States senators lead by Steve Daines.


  Apr 7 Zhang met with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg.


Yu Zhengsheng

Chair of the

Apr 7 Yu met with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena in Colombo, Sri Lanka.


Chinese People’s Political Consultative   Yu met with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Colombo, Sri Lanka.


Conference   Yu met with Sri Lankan Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya in Colombo, Sri Lanka.


  Apr 6 Yu met with Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain in Islamabad, Pakistan.
    Yu met with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad, Pakistan.


    Yu traveled to Colombo, Sri Lanka.


  Apr 5 Yu met with Pakistani Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani in Islamabad, Pakistan.


    Yu met with acting Speaker of the Pakistani National Assembly Javed Abbasi in Islamabad, Pakistan.


    Yu traveled to Islamabad, Pakistan.
Liu Yunshan

Head of Party Secretariat; Head of Propaganda

Apr 10 Liu attended and spoke at a national symposium for propaganda chiefs.
Wang Qishan

Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection

Zhang Gaoli

Executive Vice

Apr 7 Zhang met with Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.


Premier Apr 6 Zhang spoke at a conference on coordinated development of the Jin-Jing-Ji region.



About CPW

China Politics Weekly aims to keep business leaders, investors, diplomats, scholars and other China hands up to date on important trends in China. It is produced by Trey McArver, a London-based consultant providing advice and intelligence to firms and investors engaged in China and the region. You can find out more about Trey and CPW in this interview.


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