Both men have similar traits, say analysts

Mr Donald Trump and Mr Xi Jinping shook hands and smiled broadly for the cameras during a dinner at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Thursday.
Mr Donald Trump and Mr Xi Jinping shook hands and smiled broadly for the cameras during a dinner at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Thursday.PHOTO: NYTIMES

There was no awkward handshake and only broad smiles as US President Donald Trump met his Chinese counterpart, Mr Xi Jinping, for the first time, Chinese media and analysts noted, with some even predicting that they would develop a good personal relationship as they share similar traits.

Mr Trump looked to be in good humour, while Mr Xi wore a rare, sustained smile while posing for photos at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, noted observers.

"Clearly, both leaders want this summit to succeed and be seen as a success," Professor Shi Yinhong, who heads the Centre for American Studies at Beijing's Renmin University, told The Straits Times.

"If they manage to strike up a good personal relationship, it will be the first step to good US-China relations under the Trump administration," he added.

Mr Trump had joked to reporters on Thursday that he had "gotten nothing, absolutely nothing" from his first meeting with Mr Xi - but they had developed a friendship he was sure would become "a very, very great relationship".

The Chinese media believed so, too, noting their similarities.

"Both Mr Xi and Mr Trump are aspirational, ambitious and daring leaders of big powers," said the Communist Party-linked Global Times in a commentary.

It is in both men's interests to get along, the paper added.

It said "a Donald Trump who has met his legislative and administrative Waterloo needs one or two diplomatic achievements to strengthen his own leadership position".

In turn, Mr Xi knows that China's economic prosperity is inseparable from America's, and is striving for a common understanding, it added.

Other reports were also upbeat, with China Daily, for instance, noting both sides had mutual interests .

The Chinese media did not comment on the US' launch of 59 missiles at Syria in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons, which overshadowed Mr Xi's visit.

But the attack drew speculation from some Taiwanese media that Mr Trump had an unsubtle message for Mr Xi that the US will not take a passive stance against North Korea.

The pro-independence Liberty Times said Mr Trump was "shaking hands with Xi Jinping with his left hand and launching missiles with his right" to pressure China to rein in North Korea.

But Prof Shi dismissed this. "It is illogical to say that he bombed Syria for the Chinese to see when it is clear that this move is to shore up his reputation at home," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2017, with the headline 'Both men have similar traits, say analysts'. Print Edition | Subscribe