The scheduled meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump in Mar-a-Lago on Thursday has attracted unprecedented attention compared with previous meetings between the leaders of the two countries. This means the meeting will have enormous ramifications not only for Sino-US relations, but also for international politics.
Success of meeting will create a positive momentum in the world. The US and China are the world's two most powerful countries, while they differ a lot in political systems. China may inevitably become the epicenter of the US geopolitical game in the 21st century. China and the US also have the highest level of strategic distrust at present since the normalization of bilateral ties in 1972.
Before the meeting, the political foundation of this bilateral relationship and the way the two countries engage with each other were challenged by Trump's unique governance style. It is expected that the meeting can consolidate the political basis of bilateral ties and pave the way for future communications. North Korea nuclear issue will be among the topics discussed. The Sino-US relationship carries immense significance for the dynamics in the Asia-Pacific region and even the world.
If the meeting is a success, the world will feel relieved. It would mean that many of the thorny issues will not trigger a strategic confrontation between China and the US, and the two will engage in more cooperation to solve the acute issues perplexing the Asia-Pacific region and the world.
The North Korean nuclear crisis is one of the issues that has been intensely discussed by the US and the world. Sino-US cooperation on the issue can help prevent the crisis from expanding. If the cooperation breaks down, the issue is likely to evolve into a more complex geopolitical conflict.
The frictions in China-US trade have existed for long. Whether the two sides can handle the disputes in a cooperative manner or end up with a trade war will result in completely different scenarios. Trump has put forward many requirements on China before meeting with Xi. But the precondition for a successful meeting is a win-win situation for both countries rather than benefits for the US only.
The success of the meeting between Xi and Trump will benefit both Zhongnanhai and the White House. The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China will be held this year, and a stable Beijing-Washington relationship will be a politically positive factor. As a new US president, Trump faces multiple pressures for both domestic policy and diplomacy. His chief strategist Stephen Bannon has just been removed from the National Security Council shortly after the resignation of his national security advisor Michael Flynn amid controversy over Russia contacts. A successful meeting with Xi will help establish his authority within his country.
If the meeting is deemed as a failure by the global opinion, it won't bode well for both sides. Nonetheless, China has the capability to deal with bilateral disputes. Trump challenged the "one China" policy soon after his election win, which provoked Beijing but also allowed Beijing some time to get prepared for the worst-case scenario with Washington. China has made contingency plans for potential conflicts between the two countries and nothing will dismay Beijing.
If a shake-up takes place between the two sides, Washington may not be as prepared as Beijing. Further internal divisions within the US society will make it more challenging for Trump to unite the whole of American society and thwart his ambition to make America great again.
It is believed that both Xi and Trump hope for a successful meeting and will make efforts toward this goal.