While everyone is waiting with bated breath for Xi Jinping’s much-anticipated visit to Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in April, Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson paid a very bland visit to Beijing over the weekend.
The 64-year-old former Exxon CEO managed to avoid even a hint of controversy by firmly sticking to the kind of words that Beijing likes to hear: cooperation, respect and win-win. Here’s Xinhua’s summary of what went on between Tillerson and Xi in the Great Hall of the People on Sunday:
There are important development opportunities resulting from China-U.S. relations, said Xi during the meeting in the Great Hall of People in Beijing.
Xi said he had maintained sound communications with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump through telephone calls and messages, and that they had agreed that the two countries could be good cooperative partners.
To advance China-U.S. ties in a healthy and steady manner, both sides, Xi expressed, could enhance exchanges at high level and various levels; expand cooperation in bilateral, regional and global fields; and properly address and manage sensitive issues.
The two sides should grasp the general direction for the development of China-U.S. relations in an attitude responsible for history and future generations, said Xi.
Xi suggested that the two countries increase strategic trust and mutual understanding, review bilateral ties from long-term and strategic perspectives and expand fields of cooperation for win-win outcomes.
The two countries should also enhance coordination on regional hotspot issues, respect each other’s core interests and major concerns and encourage friendly exchanges between the two peoples, said Xi.
Gripping stuff, huh.
During his meeting with Xi, Tillerson appears not to have brought up any of the contentious issues currently dividing the two countries including tensions regarding the South China Sea, Taiwan, South Korea and North Korea, leaving Xi to tell him that “You said that China-U.S. relations can only be friendly. I express my appreciation for this.”
Xi appears to have been referring to a joint press conference that Tillerson took part in on Saturday with his Chinese counterpart in which the US Secretary of State seemed to partly plagiarize remarks made by Xi to Barack Obama back in 2014:
Tillerson today. Xi Jinping in 2014. Weird, huh? pic.twitter.com/v2rpoOovt0
— Patrick Chovanec (@prchovanec) March 19, 2017
Tillerson: [The] US-China relationship [began] now over 40 years ago with the historic opening between the US and China, and through that period, it has been a very positive relationship built on non-confrontation, no conflict, mutual respect, and always searching for win-win solutions.
Xi: Ladies and gentlemen, friends, China is ready to work with the United States to make efforts in a number of priority areas and putting into effect such principles as non-confrontation, non-conflict, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation.
Tillerson’s tone in Beijing differed from remarks he had made during his previous stops in South Korea and Japan, where he criticized China for its handling of the North Korea situation. Not to mention comments he made during his senate confirmation hearing when he had this to say:
“We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed,” Tillerson said in January, adding that China’s island-building was “akin to Russia’s taking of Crimea.”
Tillerson also likely endeared himself to Chinese leaders by deciding not to take the diplomatic press corp along with him on his Asia trip, explaining: “I’m not a big media press access person. I personally don’t need it.”
Follow Shanghaiist on WeChat