The agreement between China and the United States not to engage in a trade war will have everyone heaving a huge sigh of relief except the belligerent hawks in the U.S. For the rapprochement comes after months of intensifying tensions and threats of ever-stronger tit-for-tat tariffs that had raised fears the world's two largest economies were intent on locking horns.
The talks, however, defying the pessimism that surrounded them, proved to be "positive, pragmatic, constructive and productive", as Vice Premier Liu He, who led the Chinese negotiators, described them. And with the two sides agreeing to enhance their trade cooperation in areas such as energy, agriculture products, healthcare, high-tech products and finance, both sides have shown a willingness to put their trade ties on track.
For China, "significantly increasing" imports of US goods and services, such as agricultural and energy products, will help meet its development needs and the desires of Chinese consumers. And, more significantly, high-quality imports from the U.S. will prompt domestic enterprises to up their game so they can better compete.
For the U.S., the exports of more goods and services to China will help reduce the country's massive trade deficit with China, something that the administration will be able to point to as a sign its America first policy is working.
Despite all the pressure, China didn't "fold", as U.S. President Donald Trump observed. Instead, it stood firm and continually expressed its willingness to talk.
That the U.S. finally shared this willingness, means the two sides have successfully averted the head-on confrontation that at one point seemed inevitable.
That they have reached an agreement shows once again that the two sides can resolve their differences through forthright conversations; that by talking they can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
However, it is important now that they do not rest on their laurels. They should not settle for just this general consensus. With the U.S. reportedly to send a team to China to work out the details, the nitty-gritty details of the agreement must not become hindrances to delivering on the mutually beneficial promises of the agreement.
With the two sides showing that they can engage in productive discussions, there should be regular exchanges of views between high-level officials to enhance understanding and help prevent any disagreements causing future frictions.