Commenting on the recent telephone conversation between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump, China watchers in the United States have said a good personal relationship and frequent exchange of ideas between the two leaders is important for China-U.S. relations.
The phone call on Tuesday centered primarily on trade ties and the Korean Peninsula.
Trump has often talked about his country's trade deficit with China. On the other hand, cooperation between Beijing and Washington is also regarded as vital to achieving denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
"I am glad that the two presidents maintain such a close rapport and speak frequently," said Sourabh Gupta, senior fellow at the Washington-based Institute for China-America Studies.
While the close relationship "allowed for excellent management of the U.S.-China relationship in 2017," Gupta said personal ties would be even more important in 2018 since tensions over economic and trade issues could cause "an approaching storm" in bilateral relations.
Zhu Zhiqun, professor of political science and international relations at Bucknell University, Pennsylvania, said the two presidents can find mutually acceptable solutions to controversial problems "in the spirit of mutual respect."
"Through such conversations and dialogues, the two sides will have a better understanding of where their interests converge and where they diverge," Zhu said.
On trade, he said unilateral punitive actions by the United States, such as increasing tariff on Chinese imports, will hurt both economies and not solve the problem.
Echoing him, Peter Walker, former partner at consulting firm McKinsey & Company and an expert on China-U.S. relations, said that if Trump were to make any "stupid decision", China would fight back and Trump would lose a lot of support.
Merit Janow, dean of School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, recognized the important role of the newly established government-to-government dialogue mechanism in handling trade disputes between the world's top two economies.
When the two presidents met at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida in April 2017, they agreed to set up four high-level dialogue mechanisms to improve bilateral ties. The Comprehensive Economic Dialogue is one of them.
Xi told Trump on Tuesday that the four high-level dialogue mechanisms should be given full play.
Referring to the Comprehensive Economic Dialogue, Janow said it would be very productive if the mechanism, which seemed to be on hold, was resumed with seriousness.
Mentioning the China-U.S. bilateral investment agreement that is currently under negotiation, she called it a productive area to focus on since it was necessary for companies investing in China to feel that they understood what the rules were.