At U.S.-China Summit, Leaders Talk of Avoiding Another Cold War

China’s President Xi Jinping announced that he was looking for the establishment of a “new model of major country relationship” with the United States, as he expressed urgency in taking steps to prevent another Cold War

  • Share
  • Read Later
Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS

President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping talk as they tour the grounds at The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California June 8, 2013.

China’s President Xi Jinping announced that he was looking for the establishment of a “new model of major country relationship” with the United States, as he expressed urgency in taking steps to prevent another Cold War at a carefully orchestrated meeting this weekend with President Obama on isolated 200-acre Sunnylands estate.

“China and the United States must find a new path—one that is different from the inevitable confrontation and conflict between the major countries of the past,” Xi told reporters Friday after his first session with Obama.

In public statements, President Obama welcomed the effort. “We shared our respective visions for our countries’ futures and agreed that we’re more likely to achieve our objectives of prosperity and security of our people if we are working together cooperatively, rather than engaged in conflict,” Obama said.

The informal meeting on the West Coast instead of a state visit to Washington lacked a specific publicized agenda. Both leaders and their staff eschewed neck ties, and Obama and Xi took a walk around the picturesque property for one-on-one time. The walk culminated in the two chatting while sitting on a California redwood bench that Obama presented Xi for the occasion, inscribed with the dates of their meeting.

But with the Chinese government, informality has its limits. Xi opted for consecutive translation—where he or Obama delivered a sentence and had to wait for it to be translated for the other leader—as opposed to simultaneous translation, which both effectively shortened the meetings and gave Xi more time to formulate his responses to the American president. And while American officials publicly insist the meeting was productive, the conversation in the room often seemed wooden, a byproduct of lingering suspicions. Responding to reporters questions Friday evening, the two leaders appeared to talk across each other on the issue of cybersecurity, which has emerged as one of the most controversial issues between the two nations.

The focus on the Cold War by Xi suggested a sense of urgency from the Chinese leader. “It’s as if in parenthesis he’s saying, ‘If we don’t get this relationship right now, neither of us is going to like what we’re going to have to do next,'” said Chris Johnson, a former China analyst for the CIA and the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

According to National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, the meetings began Friday afternoon with a high level overview of the two presidents’ priorities and visions for their countries’ futures. Over dinner, in an ornate dining room surrounded with gold and crystal candelabras and sculpture, the two leaders, joined by aides, discussed a range of issues, including North Korea. Following their morning walk, the two leaders sat down again to discuss economic issues and cyber security.

“The discussions were positive and constructive, wide-ranging and quite successful in achieving the goals that we set forth for this meeting,” Donilon said Saturday after Xi had departed the estate.

A highlight of the meeting, according to U.S. officials, was China’s embrace of the U.S. position with respect to North Korea, with Donilon saying the presidents agreed it was a “key area for U.S.-China enhanced cooperation.” They agreed that North Korea must be denuclearized, and agreed on a path forward to apply pressure on the government in Pyongyang, which U.S. officials view as one of China’s first forays stepping in to promote regional calm.

“I think what you have essentially underway here is a shared threat analysis and a shared analysis as to what the implications and impact would be of North Korea pursuing a nuclear weapons program,” Donilon said, adding there was a discussion about further talks with North Korea being “authentic and credible. “We really haven’t seen from the North Koreans at this point that kind of commitment on the substance of potential talks, I think, at this point to move forward,” he said.

Obama also encouraged Xi to deescalate tensions with Japan over the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which are believed to sit upon oil and gas reserves and are claimed by both countries.

Obama said “that the parties should seek to de-escalate, not escalate; and the parties should seek to have conversations about this through diplomatic channels and not through actions out of the East China Sea,” Donilon told reporters.

Both leaders discussed the importance of strengthening military-to-military ties, which lag diplomatic and economic relations by more than a decade. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, visited China earlier this year, and both leaders pledged to increase the frequency and depth of those interactions to promote stability between the two powers.

While American officials repeatedly said no deliverables would come out of the meeting between the two leaders, Obama and Xi signed off on an agreement to limit the release of Hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, which are used as refrigerants and are a potent greenhouse gas. Long in the works, officials hope it is the first step toward cooperation on climate change issues.


Edward Snowden.....Get the hell out and fly to Iceland!


I'd take the talks seriously if they had addressed the huge imbalance in trade the Chinese have crafted for themselves in the way of huge protectionist tariffs on imported goods and forced 100% Chinese takeovers of American companies or joint ventures where the Chinese hold the majority and control. Yet if America discusses trying to level the playing field, we're labelled "protectionist" and all sorts of flags go up. Meanwhile, while we pivot our Armed Forces to the Pacific to counter the rising influence of China, we do it while financing the very rise we are trying to counter. I'd be all for increased cooperation and trade if we had the same access to the Chinese market as we willingly allow them to have in ours. Until then, I do my level-best (as hard as that is) to read labels and work to assure that the bare minimum of goods with "Made in China" enters my home. 


@threeer Wow, you are going against the capitalist philosophy of the competition of the markets. What about the philosophy of the consumers in a capitalist society?  Is it no always that the consumer looks for the cheapest and more affordable product in the market?  It looks like the free trade is not that good when you lose the market to better and more affordable products. One way to win is much better technology. This means more affordable education for the masses. More money for investigation. Another way of winning this fight with the world market, is to compete with the wages of the workers that produce the same articles.  The crude reality is that the American dream is going to work out for those of the Elite, only.

RamonRoman 1 Like

Just to avoid another cold war, writes the journalist. Why another Cold War?  The Cold War was about two opposing ideologies trying to impose its ideas and its way of imposing different economic Philosophies. The West won and the SOVIET UNION disappeared. No more cold war. Aah, but now this Asiatic giant, that has not invaded anyone, has not bombed anyone, does not follow and obey what this Super Power designs and assigns to the lesser countries, it is not following the messianic destiny that this Super Power has in his royal log. What a nerve, what gall of this Asiatic giant! The United Nations?  No use for this Super Power. All confabulations have to be woven with the party to be changed, face to face, so this party can see the resolution of this president, on his face. Syria dictator must go, mr Ki, and we must do it ASAP, what is so difficult that you can not understand?  You see, after this, We, Israel and Us, will need your cooperation against this pesky Islamic Iran. You see, mr President of this inferior country China, excuse me, I can't but, you have to understand, there must be only one nuclear power in the middle East, and this is Israel. She has to achieve her dream of a big Zionist country, no matter if this is achieved exiling all the Palestinian, or bombing Iran that dared threatened GOD'S APPLE OF HIS EYES. That can not be allowed, no Sir. Well, mr Asiatic President, firsts are firsts, Assad must go and with this any future confrontation for the Golan Heights. YOU SEE, EVERY THING IS SO EAAAASY, JUST NOD YOUR CHINESE FACE AND LET'S PROCEED. YOU SEE I AM NOT BUSH, JUST A CLONE.


Here is a look at China's relationship with North Korea's program to develop weapons of mass destruction:


@ViableOp The worthiness of your link has the same value of a feather on an angel wing. Can you be serious? If you are going to be credible at least use a source recognized by a good journalists, right wing of left wing. The name of your source, " Political Junkie". Bye, bye.