BEIJING — While his boss was goading China over Twitter, new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been trying to build a constructive and “results-oriented” relationship with the leadership in Beijing.
And though his warnings about the possibility of eventual military action over North Korea have raised hackles here, Tillerson received a warm welcome from China’s president on Sunday.
“You have made a lot of active efforts to achieve a smooth transition in our relationship under the new era,” President Xi Jinping told Tillerson as the men sat down for talks in the Great Hall of the People. “And I also appreciate your comment that the China-U.S. relationship can only be defined by cooperation and friendship.”
But some critics say Tillerson has bent too far, handing Beijing what Chinese news media reports are calling a “diplomatic victory.”
After meeting China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday, Tillerson voiced Chinese catchphrases about the relationship, including the avoidance of conflict and confrontation and the need to build “mutual respect” and strive for “win-win” cooperation.
The phrase “mutual respect” is key: In Beijing, that is taken to mean each side should respect the other’s “core interests.”
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