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Ex-diplomats count blessings from Trump`s China visit

2017-11-24

Source: Xinhua    Published: 2017-11-19


On the sidelines of a program Thursday assessing the prospects of China-United States relations after US President Donald Trump`s first state visit to China, two key speakers, a former Chinese diplomat and a former US diplomat, both agreed the signs were positive.


"A new type of major-country relationship should be our goal," He Yafei, former vice-minister of China`s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Xinhua at the program held in the China Public Policy Center (CPPC) of the University of Texas, Austin.


"We need to base our relationship on the basis of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation...(The) four high-level dialogue mechanisms should be given full play," He said.


The four dialogue mechanisms established between China and the United States are diplomatic and security dialogue, comprehensive economic dialogue, law enforcement and cyber security dialogue, and social and people-to-people dialogue. They were initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart during their first face-to-face meeting at Mar-a-Lago, Florida, in April.


He Yafei said the four mechanisms should be fully utilized as they would not only help the understanding between the two leaders but also drive the bilateral relationship forward in the right direction.


"(The) US-China relationship has a pattern of being driven by summits. It`s so happened in the past. You have frequent visits at the highest level, dialogues, telephone calls, meetings, multilateral conferences and state visits," he said.


David Firestein, the inaugural executive director of CPPC and an American diplomat from 1992 to 2010, said Trump`s visit once again demonstrated the importance of high-level exchanges between the two countries.


Firestein called Trump`s tone, when talking about Xi and China, "unusually warm for a US president."


"Even to the point of having his granddaughter Arabella actually addressing in Chinese, calling Xi and the First Lady of China (Peng Liyuan) as Grandpa Xi and Grandma Peng, which is very unusual. I think it speaks to a warmth President Trump feels about China at a human level," the veteran former diplomat said.


Firestein called the visit encouraging.


"I think the signaling from China on this important state visit-plus was very positive," he said, referring to the Chinese hosts pulling out all stops to add events and settings to the visit that went beyond a state visit. "I think a lot of American observers are waiting to see if the reality matches the promises of the words. If it does, I think it will augur well for the development of US-China relations."


Besides personal warmth, the economy was also a significant factor. During Trump`s visit, Chinese and US companies signed deals worth over 250 billion US dollars. Economic cooperation was one of the foundations of the China-US relationship, He Yafei said.


"That will help reduce the trade deficit on the part of the United States, and boost confidence in bilateral trade and investment," the Chinese former diplomat said, hoping that Washington would reciprocate by allowing more investment in China.


Firestein agreed, saying Americans would like to see ultimately how these deals impact the US trade deficit with China.


"If... this marks the beginning of a new era in which China really makes a sincere and significant effort (to open) up markets to US firms, I think that will have a very positive impact on US-China relations from the US perspective," he concurred.


He Yafei is a senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.

Key Words: Trump   US   China   He Yafei  

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