SoS Tillerson’s 1st China Visit Builds on Positive Ties
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s upcoming first visit to China is to build on positive momentum in the relations between China and the Trump Administration, experts said.
Tillerson began Wednesday his first three-nation Asian tour that will take him to Japan, South Korea, and China. He is to visit Beijing Saturday to hold talks with Chinese leaders and senior officials on a range of bilateral and multilateral issues.
SoS Tillerson’s 1st China trip attracts the most attention as the two sides are finalizing details for the first summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart President Donald Trump, amid media reports that it could take place in early April.
The two sides are also expected to discuss the nuclear and missile programs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as well as bi-lateral trade and security issues.
“The visit is important for establishing the tone even more than the substance of relations between China and the Trump Administration,” Ted Carpenter, senior fellow in defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, said.
Agreement on the schedule and agenda for the Xi-Trump summit would be an important measure of how successful Mr. Tillerson’s visit will be, Mr. Carpenter said.
Once the summit takes place, the 2 leaders are likely to talk about the DPRK, South China Sea and bi-lateral trade relations, among other issues, he added.
“The visit should leave the two nations closer to determining a time and agenda for the leaders to meet,” Douglas Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said.
Paal expected that the two leaders would instruct their ministers how to hold a follow-on forum for dialogues, such as the Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), a cabinet-level annual talks held under the Obama Administration.
Mr. Tillerson’s visit came at a time when the crisis on the Korean Peninsula was aggravated by the recent test firing of missiles by the DPRK, so far the most substantial reaction to the Seoul-Washington military exercises, and the controversial US deployment of the THAAD anti-missile systems in South Korea.
Due to complexity of the crisis, experts are cautious about any breakthrough from the China-US talks on the issues during Rex Tillerson’s visit.
The US is in the midst of a policy review and lacks many of the personnel necessary to conduct the review thoroughly, so it will take much longer than next week to find a solution.
South Korea is now in the midst of changing administration and not ready to make new initiatives with the DPRK aka North Korea.
Nevertheless, if the DPRK issue can bring China and the US together, it will surely help President Trump realize the importance of getting China’s help on tackling global challenges.