Chinese state-run media lauded Donald Trump on Tuesday after a phone call between him and President Xi Jinping, saying that the president-elect’s emergence could mark a “reshaping” of Sino-American relations. The pair spoke on Monday, when Xi said that the two powers needed to co-operate and Trump’s office said the leaders “established a clear sense of mutual respect for one another”.
On the campaign trail Trump frequently demonised Beijing, but questions have been asked whether his conduct in the White House will match his promises as a candidate.
Monday’s conversation was “diplomatically impeccable and has bolstered optimism over bilateral relations in the next four years”, China’s frequently nationalistic Global Times newspaper said in an editorial.
Barack Obama, whose foreign policy pivot to Asia alarmed Beijing, was “profoundly affected” by the Cold War-shaped outlook of American elites, the paper said, but Trump’s views “have not been kidnapped by Washington’s political elites”.
“Trump is probably the very American leader who will make strides in reshaping major-power relations in a pragmatic manner,” it added, saying his ideology and experience “match well with the new era”.
It was a sharp contrast to the same newspaper’s editorial the day before, which baldly warned the incoming president not to follow through on campaign-trail promises to levy steep tariffs on Chinese-made goods or Beijing would take a “tit-for-tat approach” and target US autos, aircraft, soybeans, and iPhones.
But the president-elect’s ambiguous and sometimes contradictory views on key questions on the relationship between the world’s two largest economies, including trade, the South China Sea and North Korea, have cast a pall of uncertainty over how he will manage it.