A day after President Donald Trump boasted “tremendous progress” during his Friday meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago estate, new details have emerged from the one-day summit that indicate a resounding improvement in U.S.-China relations in several key areas.
According to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Trump struck a crucial balance between building a stronger relationship with Xi and coming across as “frank” on topics where the U.S. wants to see China affect change.
“I think all of us are feeling very good about the results of this summit in terms of what it did for setting a very constructive tone going forward,” Tillerson told reporters.
On North Korea, Trump echoed Tillerson’s previous statements that the U.S. was growing weary of enforcing a policy of “strategic patience” with the defiant country. While Trump and Xi did not forge a binding agreement, Tillerson hinted at China’s openness to cooperating with the “international community” to send a message to North Korea.
Trump also tackled the thorny issue of China’s human rights violations, with Tillerson noting that the topic permeated every other conversation, “from our economic discussions, our military-to-military discussions, or our foreign policy discussions.”
“They’re really embedded in every discussion, that that is really what guides much of our view around how we’re going to work together,” Tillerson said.
Perhaps the biggest win to come out of the Chinese summit was Xi’s agreement to cooperate with Trump on reducing the U.S. trade deficit with China.
“The most interesting thing to me was they expressed an interest in reducing their net trade balance because of the impact it’s having on money supply and inflation,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “That’s the first time I’ve heard them say that in a bilateral context.”
A White House statement indicated that Trump stressed the need to “level the playing field for American workers,” informing Xi how his governmental policies have negatively impacted jobs in the U.S.
The candid conversation between Trump and Xi will continue at some point in the future, as Xi extended an invitation for Trump to make a state visit to China.