Xi Jinping and Donald Trump pledge to expand mutually beneficial cooperation

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The most powerful message for the Chinese leader may have been Trump's decision to launch USA missile strikes at Syria.

Trump said he had the authority to order the strikes "pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations and as commander-in-chief and chief executive". Mr. Xi praised Mr. Trump for giving him "a warm reception" and described the visit as holding "a uniquely important significance" for the relationship between the USA and China.

The U.S. administration's first recourse is very likely to be economic - pushing China to crack down on Chinese banks and companies said to provide North Korea access to the global financial system. "That's the first time I've heard them say that in a bilateral context", he said. But Trump's inaugural visit with Xi had a little more drama.

Reducing the US trade deficit with China is at the top of Trump's agenda, and China now acknowledges the need for a "more balanced trade environment", according to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

The Chinese response to the USA military action has been decidedly muted. "And, more importantly, we have further built up understanding and establish a kind of trust, and we have initially built up a working relationship and friendship".

China is making all-out efforts in fighting corruption, said Xi, who urged the US side to coordinate more closely with China in hunting for fugitives who have fled overseas and recovering illicit money.

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The two leaders were later photographed strolling the grounds of Trump's waterfront resort.

"We have been looking very carefully at that", Ross said.

The swift action in Syria could be interpreted as a signal especially to defiant nuclear-armed North Korea - and by extension, its ally China - as well as other countries like Iran and Russian Federation of Trump's willingness to use military force. Mnuchin added that "any such transaction" would have to be reviewed by the Committee on Financial Investment in the U.S., which can block sales of United States companies to foreign investors.

Since he was on the campaign trail, Trump has repeatedly criticized what he sees as China's unfair trade practices and its reluctance to exercise its economic leverage over North Korea to curtail Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

On the domestic political front, Xi is preparing for a party congress that could cement his grip on power for years to come, and needs to show he can deal with the United States leader as an equal. "That's one of the things we are going to be talking about". Yet neither Trump or Xi commented publicly on the issue.

During the meeting, Trump highlighted the challenges caused by the Chinese government's intervention in its economy and raised serious concerns about the impact of China's industrial, agricultural, technology, and cyber policies on American jobs and exports.

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On trade issues, Trump called for China to "level the playing field" for American workers, stressing the need for reciprocal market access. Though the mostly private meetings were overshadowed by the US strike on a Syrian airfield, their brief interactions and statements provided some key clues about what comes next in U.S.

With the attacks on Syria in the background, Trump clearly threatened that the United States would take unilateral action against North Korea, if the Chinese government did not force Pyongyang to meet Washington's demands.

Trump responded via Twitter on Saturday to critics complaining that the airfield's landing strip was undamaged after the missile attack. Trump told reporters the strike was in response to a nerve gas attack by the Syrian regime against civilians Tuesday.

The officials said they believe the hospital attack may have been an effort to cover up evidence of the earlier assault.

Trump also demanded that China adhere to worldwide norms in the seas of East Asia, a reference to the unsafe flashpoints between China and its neighbours in the South China and East China Seas. That may be more about optics than any massive change in priorities: The Obama administration pushed hard on cyber issues and believed it made some progress, for example, while China has always been pressing for more cooperation on extradition of fugitives suspected of corruption.

But he has moderated his tone since his election and he welcomed the 63-year-old Chinese leader to Mar-a-Lago's ornate dining room with an open agenda created to enable the pair build a rapport.

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China's public probably won't regard the strike as a message to their leaders unless the Trump administration makes the case explicitly, said Doug Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

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