After Syria strike, Trump's emerging doctrine is flexibility

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the US missile strikes against a Syrian air base in retaliation for a chemical weapon attack carry a message for any country seen as operating outside worldwide norms.

Heading into the first talks between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, North Korea was the front-and-center security issue on the table.

Xi made the two-day trip to the southeastern US coastal town of Palm Beach for the first meeting with Trump, in a bid to chart the course of bilateral ties in a new era.

But the meeting appeared to be diplomatic, with both leaders agreeing to a new format for US-China talks.

The North Korean missile crisis was the other issue that drew the attention of the two leaders at the summit meeting.

"The relationship developed by President Xi and myself, I think, is outstanding, " Trump said Friday during a meeting between the two countries' delegations.

Trump urged China to take steps to "level the playing field for American workers", according to the White House statement.

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Trump also said he would prefer that the Federal Reserve keep interest rates relatively low.

As Xi told Trump as they sat down to dine, China saw "a thousand reasons to make the China-US relationship work; [there is] no reason to break it".

In a possible harbinger of the kind of punishments Washington could inflict, a leading Chinese telecoms company, ZTE, was fined almost USD900 million in March for shipping sensitive US -made technology to Iran in violation of USA sanctions.

After the meeting, Trump took Xi on a walk around the manicured grounds of his lavish Spanish-style complex.

To boost bilateral ties, Xi underlined the importance of further enhancing economic, military and law enforcement cooperation and people-to-people exchanges.

China accounted for the lion's share - US$347 billion - of last year's $502-billion trade deficit.

China's official news agency Xinhua said Saturday that the "positive and fruitful" meeting has sent a "clear-cut" message that Washington and Beijing can become great cooperative partners.

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Speaking alongside Trump, Xi said the two delegations discussed important topics and established a good friendship and working relationship.

Xi and Trump also discussed China's increased militarisation in the South China Sea, with President Trump urging the Chinese to adhere to worldwide norms.

At Mar-a-Lago, both presidents re-dedicated their countries to a pragmatic and productive bilateral relationship in the vein of their predecessors, grasping in the process, too, the huge symbolism of the occasion and the overriding importance of the bilateral relationship in regional and global affairs.

At least according to the Americans, the U.S. and China have agreed to a 100-day plan that is supposed to start rebalancing the massive Chinese surplus of exports over imports.

And in one of the sharpest reverses of his presidency, Trump backed off from a campaign pledge by saying he would not declare China to be a currency manipulator, an action that could have led to higher tariffs on Chinese goods.

Regarding the United States airstrike on Syria, Tillerson said that Xi told Trump that he "understood that such a response was necessary when people are killing children", reported CNN. Instead, the U.S. will explore a range of military options, alongside diplomatic, security and economic measures.

Within the framework, the two sides had frank and in-depth conversations and set the agenda for the next phase. Nevertheless, the meticulously orchestrated Trump-Xi summit could produce fruitful results.

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After months in which Mr. Trump, first as candidate, then as president-elect, and finally as President, castigated China for "raping" the United States, for "stealing" U.S.jobs and then announcing that he might depart from the "one China" policy adopted by the United States since the 1970s, China decided that it had to rein him in.

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