The first meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama consummated months of extensive bilateral consultations. Capping frequent exchanges on issues ranging from trade to defense since China's leadership change in March, the summit helped enhance rapport between the top leaders of the world's two largest economies.
Xi and Obama spent more than eight hours at the picturesque Sunnylands retreat in California on June 7-8 discussing topics of both long-term strategic importance and immediate concern. These included the orientation of China-U.S. relations, their interactions in the Asia-Pacific region, a fair business environment and cyber security.
Indeed, the leaders met at a time when the U.S.-dominated international system faces unprecedented challenges posed, among other things, by the emergence of major developing countries, including China. On bilateral and global issues alike, Beijing is seeking a voice commensurate with its rising status, a trend that will inevitably result in clashes with Washington's vested interests. Their contentions over rulemaking in a wide array of areas are a strong testament to the ongoing shift of the center of gravity from the West to the East.
Mutual trust is indispensable to a peaceful transition. One of the most remarkable outcomes of the summit was the affirmation from the two presidents that they are committed to constructing a new model of state-to-state cooperation based on respect and shared benefits. The commitment illustrated their political will to adapt to changes in their relationship as well as in the global structure.