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Xi Reassured By Tillerson On Trump In A Meeting In Brief China Trip

Xi Reassured By Tillerson On Trump In A Meeting In Brief China Trip
Amid tensions over trade policy and North Korea, the way for amid tensions over trade policy and North Korea was smoothened by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who used a 24-hour trip to Beijing to do so.
Tillerson’s tone was more measured in meetings with Chinese officials including President Xi Jinping after delivering a sharp warning about North Korea’s nuclear program during earlier stops in Tokyo and Seoul. Promising a relationship of “non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation,” he twice echoed Chinese phrasing directly at an event with Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Reassurance the U.S. isn’t looking for a major shift in ties is what the Chinese are decoding Tillerson’s words for. After a series of tweets by President Donald Trump and his threats to punish China over its trade practices, officials have been unsure about Washington’s intentions.
One of the goals of Tillerson’s visit was to lay the groundwork for a possible Xi visit in April to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida even as the  U.S. State Department said Tillerson’s visit was focused on efforts to get China to do more to rein in its ally North Korea. And the meetings were a chance for China to take the measure of a man who was one of the U.S.’s most prominent oil executives until a few months ago even though Tillerson has interacted with senior diplomats before.
Ruan Zongze, vice president of the China Institute of International Studies run by China’s foreign ministry and an envoy to Washington between 2007 and 2011 said that Tillerson is “still rather obscure”. “We want to know what his take is on some major issues. We hope to establish a smooth senior level diplomatic channel from the very beginning." 
Tillerson emphasized areas where the countries could work together instead of offering any critiques in his first visit as secretary of state.
Chinese moves to punish South Korea economically for its decision to deploy a U.S. missile-defense system were “troubling”, Tillerson said while speaking about the North Korean nuclear program in Seoul beforehand. In order to enforce United Nations sanctions intended to punish Pyongyang for pursuing nuclear weapons, Beijing should do more, he said.
The countries agreed “things have reached a rather dangerous level” on the Korean peninsula, he said then in China.
 “We know that through further dialogue we will achieve a greater understanding that will lead to a strengthened, strengthening of the ties between China and the United States, and set the tone for our future relationship of cooperation,” Tillerson said when he met Xi on Sunday.
Xi, whose security agents normally hustle the media out of meetings with foreign officials after a minute or two, reporters were allowed to linger for opening remarks.
“You have made a lot of active efforts to achieve a smooth transition in our relationship under the new era,” Xi said. “I also appreciate your comment that the China-U.S. relationship can only be defined by cooperation and friendship.”
Ever since Trump accused China of not doing enough to curtail Kim Jong Un and caused a furor by suggesting the U.S. may not recognize the “One-China” principle governing relations with Taiwan,  ties have stabilized somewhat, suggested the comments even though they were broad.
Kim is behaving “very, very badly”, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Sunday.
Significant issues remain, particularly on trade.  The US and China continue to spar over China’s claim over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea also claimed by Japan, a U.S. treaty ally and Trump has repeatedly said Chinese trade practices are unfair.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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