China and the United States are both at odds on a variety of issues, but they found common ground on climate change.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who has rejected the science behind climate change and supported coal miners, said he welcomed the statement of global commitment to rein in global warming that China unveiled on Friday.
So while Trump was not formally invited to the summit, he still said: “I congratulate China on their courageous position.
“China’s announcement is an example of swift action by a big economy to play a bigger role in addressing the world’s most serious problem,” he said.
By contrast, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was committed to adapting to the effects of climate change, but he said it was not sufficient to “dictate outcomes to the rest of the world”.
In Beijing, Zhou Kejun, an adviser to China’s State Council (executive cabinet), said that in informal talks, he had asked the question: “Can we join hands and have the spirit of détente and not go up in a fight?”
“After a couple of minutes we were able to see why both sides needed each other and why they wanted to do more together,” Zhou said.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declined to comment on Washington’s cooperation with China on the climate change summit.
Later in the day, Pompeo laid out the “four Cs”: China and the United States want to restore the rules-based system to maintain the peace in the Asia-Pacific region; they’re committed to a free and fair trade environment; and to prosperity and prosperity for those who live in regions around the world.
He also said the two countries continued to be “on the same page” in dealing with North Korea, adding that “action was now required on denuclearisation”, though he did not offer details on what would happen next.
Just before Trump landed in Beijing, Trump said he and China’s Xi Jinping “fell short on trade, but we got very close”.
The leaders agreed to postpone a planned March 1 U.S. tariff hike to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200bn of Chinese goods and to hold off on imposing additional tariffs until at least July.
Trump also said he had instructed the Treasury Department to consider dropping tariffs from some imports from China, saying the task was “premature”.
The Trump administration has slapped duties on $250bn of Chinese goods in a dispute over trade practices and technology transfer policy, including the subsidies Washington claims are enabling Chinese investors to steal American technology.
But Trump said he and Xi both wanted “total elimination of tariffs.”
“Maybe these tariffs that are so viciously, so violently,” Trump said, will also be “discontinued”.
He also said the United States was “highly engaged” with China’s neighbors on disputes ranging from North Korea and South China Sea, the South China Sea, to the disputed islands in the East China Sea.
But tensions seemed to override diplomatic niceties at the start of Trump’s state visit, as China’s state news agency Xinhua reported on Friday that the United States could no longer live in an “arrogant, irresponsible” age of one-way relationships and that the age of the U.S. bully was over.
“Now more than ever, Washington faces the stark choice of dealing with a big, confident China or a powerful yet still isolated China with nothing to fear,” Xinhua said.