Trump and Xi Jinping could meet as early as May

The hopes for a summit between the two leaders were raised following high level talks between the two countries.

February 28, 2017 02:43 pm | Updated November 28, 2021 10:02 pm IST - BEIJING

Xi Jinping and Donald Trump

Xi Jinping and Donald Trump

China’s ties with the United States appears for a re-set amid signs that a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping could be held as early as May.

The hopes for a summit between the two leaders were raised following high level talks between China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi with a string of senior officials from the Trump administration. Mr. Yang also called on Mr. Trump on Monday.

China is hosting a summit in May on its Belt and Road Initatiave (BRI), but it was not yet clear whether the proposed presidential summit would be linked with this mega-event.

“This time State Councilor Yang’s trip to the United States was directed towards a meeting between President Xi and President Trump, maybe even before May. Of course if Trump joins the May summit (on the Belt and Road), he would be very welcome,” Wang Yiwei, Professor at the School of International Relations at Renmin University told The Hindu.

A Xinhua report published on Tuesday said that Mr. Yang called on Mr. Trump. U.S. Vice president Mike Pence and Mr. Trump’s the son-in-law Jared Kushner was also at the meeting.

The Chinese official’s Washington visit follows a telephonic conversation between President Xi and President Trump earlier this month, triggering a string of high-level contacts. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the G20 talks in Bonn, Germany. Mr. Yang also spoke to Mr. Tillerson last week.

The Hong Kong-based daily South China Morning Post is quoting Wu Xinbo, director of the Centre for American Studies at Fudan University as saying that a summit between Mr. Xi and Mr. Trump could take place “no later than May”.

The deterioration of the security situation in the Korean Peninsula also appears to have acquired top priority in Sino-US ties. “The North Korean issue was another important part of Councillor Yang’s visit,” said Prof. Wang of Renmin University. Analysts say that China appears inclided to link further advancement of the North Korean issue, with the proposed U.S. initiative to deploy the THAAD anti-missile system on South Korean soil. Not only can the THAAD system track North Korean missile launches, its radar can also monitor large swathes of territory in neighbluring China.

China also appears to be probing linking the BRI — its giant connectivity project for Asia, Europe, West Asia and Europe — in its equation with Washington.

Earlier this month, Xinhua quoted a former adviser of President Trump as saying the BRI offers China and the U.S. a new opportunity for cooperation. According to the report, James Woolsey, the former CIA director said during a conclave in Hong Kong that the BRI “offers a new opportunity for China and the United States to start workingtogether on something obviously needed by the region".

Mr. Woolsey had described as a “strategic mistake,” the Obama administration's opposition to the formation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) — a China-led multilateral bank, from which projects under the BRI are likely to benefit.

The colloquium in Hong Kong also brainstormed topics that included the U.S.-Russia relations, Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, as well as the situation in West Asia and North Africa.

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