The leaders of the United States and China and their senior officials have not mentioned Taiwan in the initial official comments following the first face-to-face meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping (習近平).
Discussions on trade and North Korea appear to have dominated the just-completed talks held at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
Chinese state news agency Xinhua reports that Trump and Xi “exchanged views on regional hot-button issues,” though it does not provide more detail.
Nor was Taiwan mentioned in the press briefing given after the talks by White House spokesperson Sean Spicer, Secretary of State Tillerson, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, and Secretary Commerce Wilbur Ross.
Tillerson says the two sides did have “candid discussions on regional and maritime security.”
“President Trump noted the importance of adherence to international norms in the East and South China Seas and to previous statements on non-militarization,” Tillerson says.
On North Korea, Tillerson says that while Trump and Xi’s discussions on North Korea were very “wide-ranging,” and “focused entirely on both countries’ previous commitments to denuclearize the peninsula,” there was “no kind of a package arrangement discussed to resolve this.”
Ross noted a new 100-day plan for trade discussions between the U.S. and China.
"Normally, trade discussions, especially between China and ourselves, are denominated in multiple years,” he said. “Given the range of issues and the magnitude, that may be ambitious, but it's a very big sea change in the pace of discussions.”
Tillerson also says Trump and Xi did establish a new high-level framework for future negotiations.
“The U.S.-China Comprehensive Dialogue will be overseen by the two Presidents, and it will have four pillars: the diplomatic and security dialogue; the comprehensive economic dialogue; the law enforcement and cybersecurity dialogue; and the social and cultures issues dialogue.” [sic]
In line with expectations
While most Taiwan experts anticipated a benign outcome for Taiwan from the summit, few, given the Trump administration’s unpredictability, were willing to fully rule out the possibility of an unexpected statement or announcement related to Taiwan.
However, judging from the initial statements made by the pair on completion of the talks, no major shift related to Taiwan has immediately eventuated.
In his closing remarks from Florida, President Trump said the relationship developed with President Xi was “outstanding.”
“We look forward to being together many times in the future. And I believe lots of very potentially bad problems will be going away,” Trump said.
He also said, “tremendous progress” had been made in the U.S.-China relationship.
“My representatives have been meeting one-on-one with their counterparts from China. And I think, truly, progress has been made. We'll be making a lot of additional progress.”
In a slightly less vague statement reported by Chinese state media, Xi said he was ready to work with Trump “to push forward the China-U.S. relations from a new starting point.”
Xi said there were "a thousand reasons to make the China-U.S. relationship work, and no reason to break it."
“Xi urged the two countries to set up a cooperative priority list for early harvest, advance negotiations on the bilateral investment treaty, and explore the pragmatic cooperation in infrastructure construction and energy, among other areas,” Xinhua reports [sic].
Xinhua also notes that Xi “underlined the role of four newly-established high-level mechanisms for dialogue and cooperation between China and the United States” across “diplomacy and security, economy, law enforcement and cyber security, as well as social and people-to-people exchanges.”
Trump accepted an invitation of a state visit to China later this year.
The talks were overshadowed by a poison gas attack in Syria, which killed dozens of civilians, and Trump’s decision to respond by hitting a Syrian military airfield with 59 U.S. cruise missiles.
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Editor: Edward White