June 13th, 2013
09:19 AM ET

Obama and Xi's summit success

By Fareed Zakaria

While we were consumed by the crises of the moment – Turkey's riots, NSA snooping and Washington's "scandals" – something happened on June 7 and 8 that is potentially of more lasting importance. The presidents of the U.S. and China held their most significant and successful meeting in decades. It was a vital step forward in the crucial relationship – between the world's superpower and its fastest-rising power – that will shape the 21st century.

The summit at Sunnylands, in California, was the result of months of preparation, led on the American side by National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon. He explained to me that the two teams agreed to a format that was a real break with the past: "Usually at meetings like these, each leader brings a set of talking points. This creates a format that highlights problems. This was different: We didn't come in with a set of complaints. The leaders came with ideas about opportunities. It created a completely different discussion and dynamic."

Read the TIME column here

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Topics: Time

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Lyndsie Graham

    This summit meeting had better be successful since the U.S. and China need one another. Just ignore all these ignorant, anti-Chinese ranting warmongers here who have no notion whatsoever if the Chinese were to stop financing our huge spending deficit! All social programs will be cut drastically while our schools and libraries close and our infrastructure falls apart. Does anyone in their right mind want this?

    June 13, 2013 at 10:09 am | Reply
    • Sean B.

      You call people ignorant but China's portion of ownership of our public debt is only around 10%. We could easily sell this amount of debt through bonds since we have such a great reputation of honoring our debt payments. So you come off as pretty ignorant, except for you excellent point that we need China as much as they need us in terms of fostering a peaceful world with well regulated trading opportunities.

      June 13, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Reply
  2. Klaus

    No go! This was step backward in the non-crucial relationship – between the world's (would like to be) superpower and its fastest-rising power – that must not shape the 21st century. The West needs new compass, that's why we call for GREAT BRITAIN's leadership for new Western Glory Days in the 21st century.

    June 14, 2013 at 6:46 am | Reply
    • Kerry

      Come on Klaus, quit trying to be funny here, will you? Everyone knows just how amoral the British are as history as well as the current British policies clearly show! Better Russia than Britain, I say!

      June 14, 2013 at 10:28 am | Reply
  3. j. von hettlingen

    Indeed, Obama seemed to have more success with Xi Jinping than with his predecessor Hu Jingtao, who looked so stiff and implacable, that made any effort to create a relaxed and informal atmosphere impossible. After all personal relationship between world leaders does help improve foreign relations and form alliances.
    The meeting at Sunnylands was a good start and it takes further goodwill to translate words into actions.

    June 14, 2013 at 8:20 am | Reply
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    July 7, 2014 at 7:42 am | Reply
  5. Revaa

    ,"Did it ever occur to you that while the Republican party was failing to stand up to its own ppincirles, that perhaps Powell really saw more promise in Obama.Powell is not the only Republican disgusted with the direction of the party."One can't help but agree with you, that Bush and the Delay headed House lost sight of the core ppincirles of the Reagan Revolution. Delay with his sweetheart deal/earmark agenda and Bush with his absence of use of the veto power certainly undermined those ppincirles. But somehow it seems to me that Powell's reaction was more an emotional response, than a call for the party to return to the very ppincirles to which he use to adhere and upon which he built his career. You went on to say,"Unity matters. Leadership matters"Eileen, unity and leadership matter if you have the underlying moral values and ppincirles to move the group in the proper direction of action or conduct. One can certainly argue that while Hitler, Stalin, and even a Jim Jones displayed leadership and were "leaders", the underlying ppincirles and morals of their actions were bankrupt, destructive and morally corrupt. They ultimately destroyed not only their own followers, but also the lives of those who rightfully opposed them and many others. Their emphasis was always on the authority side of leadership equation, without consideration of the inherent responsibilities they bore to those they lead.I am not suggesting that either Bush or Obama are comparable to those listed above, however, you seem give Obama a pass despite his character as displayed in past statements, for example his initial statements about immediate withdrawal from Iraq, statements with regard to the Reverend Wright, increasing taxation and many others. Many of his statements were made, only to be suddenly reversed when it became necessary to do so to get the nomination and win the election. The reversals seemed to be borne more out of political expediency than any consistent long term belief system. A key example of comcern over Obama is the two following statements made at the time the Wright affair peaked, which I think says a lot more about the person making them than Wright,"The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation." Barrack Obama Huffington Post 3/14/2008"I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes." MSNBC text of Obama speech 3/18/2008 (Bolding is mine)Values and ppincirles also matter. And what does such a 180 degree turnaround in a four day period say about the moral character of Obama? And how will that morality reflect itself in his ability to lead the country and the free world, instilling his set of values in establishing policy?

    July 21, 2014 at 3:06 pm | Reply

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