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Casual but cautious summit

By Li Qingsi | China Daily | Updated: 2013-06-14 07:56
US would benefit more from cooperating with China than encouraging others to encroach on the rising power's interests

As an effort to break away from the traditional formality of summit meetings, the meeting between President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Barack Obama at the Sunnylands estate in California points to a more cooperative future.

The hosting of Xi in such a casual manner was a new gesture by Obama aimed at resetting the tone of China-US relations during his second term and in particular to nurture a private bond with China's new leader. Xi's willingness to meet Obama at the Sunnylands also showed China's desire to work together with the US to map the blueprint for China-US ties and pursue cross-Pacific cooperation.

The casualness of the summit was, to some extent, a reflection of the discontent of both countries with their existing ties, which have witnessed a kind of retrogression in recent years. At the same time, it highlighted both sides' desire to reduce the possibility of head-on clashes between them on a wide range of thorny issues.

However, the casual style of the summit did not conceal the cautious and discreet attitude both countries have toward how best to steer the world's most important bilateral relationship.

With a relatively smooth interaction mechanism, the two nations have bid farewell to the era in which leadership changes in either affected ties. At the same time, the working style and diplomatic approaches of China's new leadership have drawn attention from the US and caused decision-markers in Washington to take action to make the prospects for relations clearer, as they had become blurred by a series of events during Obama's first term in office.

The time has gone when bilateral ties were completely swayed or dominated by the US. Although China is still not viewed by the US as an equal partner, the US can no longer ignore the role China plays in international and regional affairs. This has contributed a lot to Obama's accelerated efforts to improve ties with China during his second term.

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