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Tillerson's first China visit to build on positive momentum in China-U.S. ties

Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi (L) shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during their meeting in Washington D.C., the United States, on Feb. 28, 2017. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)

WASHINGTON, March 15 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's upcoming first visit to China is to build on positive momentum in the relations between China and the Trump administration, experts said.

Tillerson began Wednesday his first three-nation Asian tour that will take him to Japan, South Koreaand China. He is to visit Beijing Saturday to hold talks with Chinese leaders and senior officials on a range of bilateral and multilateral issues.


Tillerson's first China trip attracts the most attention as the two sides are finalizing details for the first summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump, amid media reports that it could take place in early April.

The two sides are also expected to discuss the nuclear and missile programs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), as well as bilateral trade and security issues.

"The visit is important for establishing the tone even more than the substance of relations between China and the new (Trump) administration," Ted Carpenter, senior fellow in defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, told Xinhua.

Agreement on the schedule and agenda for the Xi-Trump summit would be an important measure of how successful Tillerson's visit will be, Carpenter said.

Once the summit takes place, the two leaders are likely to talk about the DPRK, South China Seaand bilateral trade relations, among other issues, he added.

"The visit should leave the two nations closer to determining a time and agenda for the leaders to meet," Douglas Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Xinhua.

Paal expected that the two leaders would instruct their ministers how to hold a follow-on forum for dialogues, such as the Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), a cabinet-level annual talks held under the Obama administration.


Tillerson's visit came at a time when the crisis on the Korean Peninsula was aggravated by the recent test firing of missiles by the DPRK, so far the most substantial reaction to the Seoul-Washington military exercises, and the controversial U.S. deployment of the THAAD anti-missile systems in South Korea.

Due to complexity of the crisis, experts are cautious about any breakthrough from the China-U.S. talks on the issues during Tillerson's visit.

Carpenter believed that the U.S. and South Korea will not even delay, much less abandon, the THAAD deployment.

"American leaders are concerned that elections in South Korea might produce a president opposed to THAAD, but unless that happens, the deployment will go forward," Carpenter said, referring to the upcoming election in South Korea following the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.

Paal said he did not expect any deal on the DPRK issue from Tillerson's meetings in Beijing, as there is "no ready solution" to it.

The U.S. is in the midst of a policy review and lacks many of the personnel necessary to conduct the review thoroughly, so it will take much longer than next week to find a solution. Moreover, South Korea is now in the midst of changing administration and not ready to make new initiatives with the DPRK, Paal said.

Nevertheless, if the DPRK issue can bring China and the U.S. together, it will surely help Trump realize the importance of getting China's help on tackling global challenges, he said.

[ Editor: Zhang Zhou ]