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'Only time will tell' on improving US-China trade

20 April 2017

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, wrapped up their first meeting at the weekend and set a constructive tone for the future development of China-US relations.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson touted the first summit between the leaders of the world's two largest economies as a success and said Trump and Xi enjoyed "very frank, very candid" discussions that were "very positive".

Trump briefed Xi about Thursday's strike, the first USA military action against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, and the Chinese leader showed understanding that "such a response was necessary when people were killing children", Tillerson said at a press briefing with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. That could indicate that the relationship between the two countries remains stable, despite Trump's fiery accusations during his campaign, and afterward, that China has stolen U.S. manufacturing jobs.

The timing of the attack could send a message to the Chinese. Some $347 billion of the $502 billion trade deficit recorded by the USA past year was with China. Last year, two-way trade reached United States dollars 519.6 billion, compared to USD 2.5 billion in 1979 when the two nations established diplomatic ties.

On the night of the Chinese president's arrival, a USA airstrike on an airbase in Syria was launched in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack.

Trump did raise his concerns on the issue with Xi.

"President Trump indicated to President Xi that he welcomed any ideas that President Xi and China might have as to other actions we could take and that we would be happy to work with them", Tillerson said.

The two leaders were joined Thursday evening by United States first lady and former model Melania Trump and Peng Liyuan - a celebrated folk singer who Trump hailed as a "great, great celebrity".

For Xi, who is entering a twice-a-decade Communist Party congress in the fall, the meeting with Trump was more about stabilizing the critical U.S.

Mr. Trump also expected Mr. Xi to "step up" and help rein in North Korea.

Regarding North Korea, Mr. Xi shared the view that the country's nuclear capabilities had reached "a very serious stage", said Mr. Tillerson. Trump could be seen chatting and gesturing to Xi, who did the same.

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Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in the press conference with Tillerson referred to the U.S. Commerce Department's $1.17 billion fine on Chinese telecom company ZTE last month for the illegal shipment of equipment to Iran and North Korea in violation of U.S. sanctions.

"President Trump noted the importance of adhering to worldwide rules and norms in the East and South China Seas and to previous statements on non-militarisation".

The US leader apparently did speak to Xi about another thorny issue, telling him of "the importance of protecting human rights and other values deeply held by Americans", the White House reported. The visit by President Trump to China, sometime later this year, would guarantee the stability of relations between two big powers.

Trump and Xi also established a new and cabinet-level framework for negotiations, he said.

The two sides also agreed to a series of future meetings to tackle additional economic and security issues as well as US concerns about Chinese cyberattacks. It also remains to be seen whether the Obama administration's deal with Beijing to curb Chinese cybertheft for economic gain and its hacking of US companies will be addressed.

The country's Foreign Ministry called the airstrikes "absolutely unpardonable" and said it proves that its nuclear weapons are justified to protect the country against Washington's "evermore reckless moves for a war". Trump accepted, with a date yet to be determined.

Taking action against North Korea has been a sticking point in US talks with the Chinese. -China summit based on announced results.

Despite his tough campaign talk, Trump has so far not followed through on his threat to formally brand China a "currency manipulator", nor to hit Chinese imports with punitive tariffs.

The Trump White House is anxious Pyongyang is just months away from marrying nuclear and long-range missile technology to put the US West Coast within striking distance.

After his first encounter with the man leading the nation he once criticized as a menace, President Trump was full of praise.

Sen. Edward Markey is calling on President Donald Trump to engage in direct negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as part of a proposed joint effort with China to reduce North Korea's nuclear threat.

'Only time will tell' on improving US-China trade