Interview: Xi-Trump rapport to keep bilateral differences manageable, says U.S. expert

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-19 10:09:16|Editor: Yang Yi
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by Xinhua writers Zhu Dongyang, Liu Chen, Gao Pan

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- The rapport at personal and working levels between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to keep bilateral differences manageable, said a famous U.S. expert on Monday.

Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow on foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, made the remarks after Trump rolled out his first national security strategy report earlier in the day.

The report said the United States is "engaged in a new era of competition" from nations like China and Russia, "competitors" who seek to undermine the U.S. interests and will eventually overthrow the existing global order.

O'Hanlon told Xinhua in a written interview that he believed "the personal rapport that Trump and Xi are establishing is a useful way to sort of cap the economic tensions," and "maintain a professional and constructive and problem-solving orientation to the nature of the interactions and look for some tangible, concrete steps."

He said he is glad "that President Trump and President Xi have established a good rapport that hopefully keeps ...issues at a level where they can be productively discussed and managed as problems."

The leaders of the world's two largest economies met three times in 2017, including at Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in the state Florida, forging a friendship or "great chemistry" in Trump's words. The frank high-level communications have contributed to the stable development of bilateral ties this year.

Bilateral trade expanded 16.5 percent in the first 11 months of this year. And in the first half of 2017, direct sales of U.S. meat products on Chinese e-commerce giant JD.COM grew more than 780 percent year-over-year.

In a comment on the definition of China in Trump's national security report, O'Hanlon said, "I'm glad the word is no more potent than competitor. Even that word 'competitor' is going to be problematic for some."

"I like to hope that it's manageable and that it can be kept within parameters," the China expert added.

"I think the document has to be taken in combination with the actual diplomacy between the United States and China right now and the relationship between Trump and Xi," he said.

"You can't view any one of these things in isolation, they all represent significant elements of the relationship and of U.S. government goals for the relationship, and you need to ask how they can be ...juxtaposed and integrated into a combined framework."

"So again I think the Xi-Trump relationship, which everyone knows to be meaningful and generally positive, perhaps even better than expected, is a bit of a softening element in what is otherwise a moderately tense or moderately stark national security strategy," he noted.

(Matthew Rusling in Washington contributed to the story.)