From the Chinese and US first couples’ specially arranged itinerary to more than $250 billion business deals announced on Nov 9, Donald Trump’s first trip to China as US president was indeed a “state visit plus”.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) holds a grand ceremony to welcome US President Donald Trump at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov 9. XINHUA
There was no reason for it not to be. On Nov 8, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan spent the whole afternoon and evening in the Palace Museum with US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump. The Forbidden City has been frequently included in foreign leaders’ itineraries on their visits to Beijing in recent decades.
But it was the first time that the museum simultaneously hosted the Chinese president and his wife accompanying a visiting presidential couple from another country, according to Shan Jixiang, director of the museum.
The next day, Trump and his wife enjoyed a special performance of the traditional Chinese musical instrument bianzhong at the Great Hall of the People, which is not common for a welcoming ceremony and talks.
The “state visit plus” treatment for Trump showed the determination and actions of both China and the US to improve China-US ties.
Trump expressed thanks to Xi during talks at the Great Hall of the People, saying, “there can be no more important subject than China-US relations.”
Although there are still differences among China-US relations, the most important result of their talks in Beijing has been the approach to dealing with issues that the two leaders took.
China’s commitment to establish a “new type of relationship” with the US, as Xi said in his talks with Trump, will go a long way toward keeping the all-important Sino-US relationship alive.
Meanwhile, together with Trump, there were 29 US business leaders who came looking for business opportunities with China. During the three-day visit, they signed 34 deals worth $250 billion with Chinese companies such as Xiaomi Corp and the China Aviation Supplies Holding Company.
China-US relations are “at a new historic starting point”, and cooperation is “the only correct way” for the two countries, Xi said at a meeting between the two leaders on Nov 9.
There is undoubtedly a lot of work left to do, as Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state, pointed out.
But the readiness of the two leaders to listen, as well as talk, was apparent in their public appearances, and offers hope that together, China and the US can do “tremendous things” to the benefit of both countries, even the world, as Trump suggested.
Certainly, China is willing, as Xi said, since the Pacific is big enough to accommodate both. And although there are challenges the two nations need to face, there is great potential for growth.