Opinion: Xi-Trump G20 meeting: Applaudable truce and long path ahead
Updated 14:45, 05-Dec-2018
Zhu Zheng
Editor's note: Zhu Zheng is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law with China University of Political Science and Law. The article reflects the author's opinion and not necessarily the views of CGTN.
Saturday night's dinner meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his American counterpart Donald Trump is obviously the most buzzworthy one at this year's G20 Leader's Summit in Buenos Aires.
This sideline meeting took roughly two-and-a-half hours, and according to the just-released news, the talks was longer than previously expected, and went “very well,” said Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council and also an attendee of the meeting.
China has agreed to purchase a “very substantial” amount of American farm, energy and industrial goods. Also, both sides agreed to “immediately” begin talks on Chinese industrial policies.
Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during a working dinner with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump in Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 1, 2018. /Xinhua Photo

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during a working dinner with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump in Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 1, 2018. /Xinhua Photo

Among its many other deals, the one that has constantly dominated the spotlight is the one first released by CGTN: The two sides had agreed that “no additional tariffs will be imposed after January 1.” That means the U.S. will leave the tariffs on 200 billion US dollars' worth of Chinese goods at the 10 percent rate, and not raise it to 25 percent.
There can be positive and negative readings over this latest news at the same time. 
Yes, as some news outlets have interpreted, it can be construed positively as a trade truce, meaning that no further trade tariffs will be imposed, even though this is temporary. As some observed, both sides were satisfied when the meeting was drawing to a close, as applause was heard in the room.
Chinese President Xi Jinping also said at the outset that “he was very happy to meet with President Trump” and he took it as “an opportunity to exchange views.” As Xi said, “there have been many new changes in the world situation since the last meeting,” and to China and the United States, “cooperation is the best choice.”
In regards to China-U.S. collaborations, perhaps no other forum is better than G20, which, from its birth, was a forum of unity. Convened by the U.S. in 2008 to cushion the negative blow of the financial crisis, the G20 Washington Summit successfully achieved general agreement among its member states on how to cooperate in key areas so as to propel economic growth, and walk America and the world through the crisis.
In the face of global economic uncertainties, the G20 countries genuinely availed themselves of the G20 summit as an important mechanism to exchange views and avoid confrontations. Particularly at that crossroads of the 2008 financial crisis, the U.S. offered a conciliatory gesture of friendship to China, and cordially described the two countries, in the words of the then secretary of state Hillary Clinton, “in the same boat.”
Mostly because of China's efforts, particularly the 4-Trillion-Yuan Stimulus Package, the U.S. survived the economic winter. But after the crisis, regardless of the costs paid by China, the relations became strained after Trump assumed office.
Alas, when a friend is not in need anymore, he is not a friend indeed. It is apparent that the bilateral ties are subject to the changing needs, and therefore, there are more reasons to worry about the truce at hand.
So far, both parties have agreed to bring the raising of tariffs to a pause, and the negotiations will immediately be launched in the next 90 days on structural changes with respect to technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber security, and services and agriculture. The prospects of the talks remain uncertain at this stage, for when the 90-day limit expires and no deal is reached, the 10 percent tariffs will be raised to 25 percent once again.
Secondly, the world is still facing challenges from the economic downturn and potential political crisis, and the prospects of China-U.S. trade is also subject to these challenges from the outside world. But again, the fear of the unknown can only be conquered with cooperation and mutual trust. 
Regardless, as President Xi stressed in his G20 remarks, China will stay committed to upholding an open and multilateral trading system, and whether this effort will yield positive results hinges upon how America responds and how well China-U.S. relations develop in the future.
When China-U.S. relations arrive once again at a juncture, let us breathe a sigh of relief for now, and keep our fingers crossed for the ensuing negotiations.  
(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com.)