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On June 29, the leaders of China and the United States met as planned and came to a consensus on several important topics. The meeting was the subject of great concern in the international community because of the increase in friction between the two powers.

Regardless of speculations from outside, the two presidents’ meeting at the Group of Twenty summit was important for both China and the United States. From the American standpoint, Donald Trump needed it to help boost his chances of being re-elected.

At least 12 Democrats have announced their intention to run for election to the US presidency, putting more pressure on Trump. The quality of the US economy will directly determine whether Trump can win another term.

However, Trump’s rash declaration of a trade war against China has affected the recovery of the US economy. When he made the first move of meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the US stock market rallied, which shows the huge impact Sino-US trade conflicts have on the US economy.

From China’s perspective, it also needed the meeting at the G20 to stabilize Sino-US relations. Although trade conflicts cannot change the overall relations between the two countries, they can definitely worsen the atmosphere, escalating confrontation between the two countries and intensifying other core issues.

While the meeting appeared to have achieved many concrete results, the international community should not expect much given Trump’s unpredictable nature. Clearly, communication between the two men is not enough, meaning there may be new frictions in the future.

Being the “businessman president,” Trump’s policy toward China presents great uncertainty. However, China is increasingly progressive and moving toward a new round of reforms and opening up and should be confident in its own strength and strategies.

China cannot fall into the trap of narrow populism or nationalist sentiments and must see clearly the essence of the trade war. Trump can be very erratic, yes, but his policy toward China has not changed much. He remains determined to put “America First” in order to maximize America’s benefits. At present, there is no clear consensus on US foreign policy regarding China. Who the pacifists should really be worrying about is Vice-President Mike Pence and his cohort who seek to confront and contain China.

This article was first published on and was translated by Kamaran Malik.

Lin Hongyu

Lin Hongyu is the standing councilor of the China Association of International Studies (CAIS), senior fellow of China Pacific Studies Academy and one of the distinguished scholars of Peking social science theory studies. He earned his PhD from Peking University and once was a visiting scholar at Hoover Institution at Stanford University and director of the Department of International Politics at the China University of International Relations.

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