There have been a few twists and turns along the way, but China and the US finally called a halt to their trade war on Wednesday, demonstrating that as long as they abide by the principles of equality and mutual respect, they can engage with one another amicably and productively.
With the signing of the deal, it is now to be hoped that the detente leads to lasting peace.
The two negotiating teams have worked diligently to make the deal happen, and it is undoubtedly a major and welcome achievement, as shown by the general euphoria that greeted the news that the two sides were to put pen to paper.
However, that elation was quickly tempered by suspicions that it would not take much to banjax the deal, and the sobering realisation that if that happened, it would not only stymie the next phase of negotiations, it would also have the two sides facing off again with tariffs drawn.
They have tried to guard against this possibility, by devoting a considerable part of the text of the deal to its enforcement and a mechanism to resolve any disputes that may arise over what has been agreed.
Hopefully, this foresight, which stands as testimony to the two sides’ willingness to accommodate each other’s concerns, will ensure the deal can withstand any tests of over time.
For, if well carried out, the deal will be favourably consequential for both countries, as it will let them tap the complementarity of their economies. The upgrading of industry and consumption demand in China will provide the US with a huge market for not only its industrial, agricultural and energy products, but also its services.
And in line with its efforts to deepen reform to improve its business environment and further open its doors, China has pledged to strengthen its intellectual property rights protection and to open up its financial sector, which accompanied by the guarantee of strengthened supervision will attract more US companies and capital.
There are still differences to be resolved, but the phase one deal marks a small, but positive step toward realising the breadth and depth that Sino-US trade and economic cooperation could reach.
The two sides should build on this achievement by carrying forward the constructive momentum in their negotiations to come.
China’s stance is consistent and explicit: It is committed to cooperating with the US, and does not seek confrontation. That explains why, while firmly safeguarding its own development interests, it has engaged in the trade talks in good faith, with a willingness to realise win-win outcomes. It will continue to act on that stance to strive together with the US for their common interests and the global good.