Editorial Notes

Trump's letter a positive sign for US-China ties: China Daily

A combination of file photos showing Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) delivering a speech on the opening day of the World Economic Forum, on Jan 17, 2017 and US President Donald Trump listening to questions from reporters in New York, on Jan 9, 20
A combination of file photos showing Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) delivering a speech on the opening day of the World Economic Forum, on Jan 17, 2017 and US President Donald Trump listening to questions from reporters in New York, on Jan 9, 2017. PHOTOS: AFP, REUTERS

In its editorial on Feb 10, the paper says that United States President Donald Trump's letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping suggests that bilateral relations are still on the right track despite Trump's antagonistic behaviour.

President Xi Jinping received a letter from Donald Trump on Wednesday, in which the United States President said he looked forward to working with the Chinese leader "to develop a constructive relationship" that benefits both countries.

The letter conveys the reassuring message that bilateral relations are still on the right track despite the speculation that has arisen with Trump's victory in the November election, and his breaking of long-held norms and practice that used to guide bilateral ties-on Taiwan, the South China Sea and trade.

Fuelling the tensions has been the belligerent attitude of some of the members of the Trump administration, which has increased concerns that a military confrontation is in the cards. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, for instance, has suggested China's access to its islands in the South China Sea might be blocked, while Steve Bannon, the chief strategist in Trump's team, said he believed that the US would go to war with China within five to 10 years during a radio broadcast last year.

 

Against this backdrop, the letter, though terse and issued nearly three weeks after Trump's inauguration, is still a positive signal, as it suggests that reason still prevails in the White House. Although it is still too early to conclude Trump no longer seeks to antagonise China, this show of goodwill will to some extent minimise the possibility of antagonistic rhetoric being turned into policies or actions that will set the two giants on a collision course.

China consistently holds that cooperation, rather than confrontation, is the only choice for the two countries, and that both should try to manage and control the disputes and sensitive problems that exist between them.

The fact that their shared interests far outweigh their differences determines that if there is a clash between them, "both will lose and both cannot afford that", as Foreign Minister Wang Yi said earlier this week during a visit to Australia.

The US seems to echo this sentiment. US Defence Secretary James Mattis, during a visit to Japan last week, emphasised the importance of giving diplomacy priority in solving the disputes in the South China Sea, raising hopes that the sea will not necessarily become a flash-point for conflict.

In his letter, Trump also wished the Chinese people a happy Lantern Festival and prosperous Year of the Rooster. This may help to end speculation that Trump made an intentional slight by being the only US president in recent decades not to have sent greetings for the Chinese Lunar New Year.


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