Obama and Xi's summit hailed as constructive

GIDDY-UP: The cover of The Economist's new issue depicts US President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping and First Lady Michelle Obama in a spoof of the Lee Ang film Brokeback Mountain.


    Jun 10, 2013

    Obama and Xi's summit hailed as constructive

    PRESIDENT Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping ended their first United States-China summit last Saturday, forging a rapport and policy understandings, if not breakthroughs, on North Korea, climate and cyber issues.

    The presidents spent eight hours together over two days, in intimate groups with staff. They had a dinner of lobster and steak, and strolled through the lush gardens of a California desert oasis, in a casual departure for Sino-US ties.

    It was the first US-China summit since Mr Xi, 59, assumed full power in March and Mr Obama - the 52-year-old architect of a rebalancing of Washington diplomacy towards Asia viewed with suspicion in Beijing - embarked on his second term.

    Both sides wanted to loosen the formality of US-China talks - and appeared to succeed.

    By the time Mr Xi left, the two men had talked bluntly about a new flashpoint, cybersecurity, chided North Korea's nuclear grandstanding and agreed on a new joint push on climate change.

    US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said the talks were "uniquely informal", "constructive", "wide-ranging" and "positive" for a vital, great-power relationship that is often prickly and requires constant maintenance.

    Chinese State Counsellor Yang Jiechi said the leaders did not "shy away from differences", including US arms sales to Taiwan and China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.

    The presidents agreed to work together for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, following nuclear and missile tests and wild warnings of atomic warfare from North Korea, China's nominal ally.

    Mr Xi invited Mr Obama to pay a return informal visit to China. Mr Donilon said the two sides would work together to set a date, and to work out a schedule for an exchange of state visits.

    Mirroring his host's theme of a new approach, Mr Xi said "the vast Pacific Ocean has enough space for two large countries like the US and China".