Richard C. Bush was impressed with the summit, as a first step:
On specific issues, Obama and Xi appear to have had the most agreement on North Korea: on the strategic dangers posed by Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, and on the need to fully enforce the resolutions of the UN Security Council to create pressure on the North to choose between nuclear weapons and a normal relationship with the international community. President Obama discussed the problem of cyber-theft targeting public and private American entities. He also urged restraint by all parties to disputes in the East and South China Seas. President Xi reportedly (and not unexpectedly) raised the issue of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and Obama reportedly reiterated the long-standing U.S. position. Xi also asked for more information on regarding the multilateral trade negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Obama pledged to provide that transparency.
Thus, the Sunnylands Summit did not resolve the issues in the U.S.-China relationship, but that was never its objective. Instead, the goal was to create a more effective platform for addressing those issues in the future by deepening the Xi-Obama personal relationship and by making explicit the reality that the success of each will affect the success of the other. This was a good beginning, but it is just a beginning.
No reports indicate that the two discussed Edward Snowden hiding out in Hong Kong. But this was a great tweet:
President Xi wont be staying at luxurious Sunnylands retreat because of eavesdropping worries instead he and his wife at nearby Hyatt
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) June 7, 2013
Elizabeth C. Economy thinks the two leaders forged a good rapport:
At the heart of the summit, however, was President Xi’s desire to be treated with respect and to have China and the United States forge a “new relationship among major powers.” President Xi got half of his wish.
Certainly President Obama treated President Xi with respect; however he resisted Chinese efforts to elevate the U.S.-China relationship beyond that of the United States’ relations with its allies. While President Obama acknowledged that the two countries needed to have a “new model of cooperation,” he carefully avoided the Chinese phraseology of a “new model of major country relationships.”
While perhaps not the best outcome for President Xi, President Obama has it right. A special partnership of the sort that China seeks can only arise after the two countries have achieved a series of policy successes premised on common values and approaches. Until then, the leaders and people of both countries should be pleased that the summit was good enough: it brought a new more positive energy to the bilateral relationship, stressed cooperation as opposed to conflict, and offered a few of the win-wins that have been so scarce in recent years.
Walter Mead calls it a snapshot of the new global politics:
[N]ote just how unlike this summit was from the gatherings that characterized high politics in the 20th century. It was not just that no Europeans were present, but that neither of the leaders has deep personal roots in the Atlantic community. This is a glimpse at what could well become the diplomacy of the 21st century (unless Europe figures out how to organize both its economy and its political system more effectively). The Pacific Century is here.
Previous Dish coverage of the summit here. A reader notes of it:
Your post is titled “Barack and Xi, but Xi is actually the Chinese president’s surname. His first name is Jinping (meaning progress and peace). So a more symmetrical title should be Obama and Xi. The confusion may come from the way Chinese names are structured with surname at the front.
(Photo: US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping take a walk at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California, on June 8, 2013. Obama and Xi wrap up their debut summit Saturday, grasping for a personal understanding that could ease often prickly US-China relations. Skipping the usual summit pageantry, Obama and Xi went without neckties, in a departure from the stifling formality that marked Obama’s halting interactions with China’s ex-president Hu Jintao. By Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)