It was rather remarkable: a joint press conference without the joint.
President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping surfaced Thursday in Beijing for a press conference. But there were no questions for Xi, per an agreement with Trump, who also did a 180-degree turn on his campaign complaints that China was responsible for the huge U.S. trade deficit with China.
On air, CNN's Jeff Zeleny noted how this was the first time since President George H.W. Bush that an American president had given such a pass to his Chinese counterpart.
When I tracked down Evan Osnos, a New Yorker correspondent and China expert, he left no doubt, "As a measure of who gets to set the rules today, it's a remarkable moment. "
The former Beijing correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and New Yorker, informed, "For comparison's sake, during Bill Clinton's visit to Beijing in 1998, the White House succeeded in arranging for him and Jiang
Zemin to do a spirited 70-minute press conference in which they took questions from journalists and actively debated each other on the most difficult issues of human rights, Tiananmen Square and Tibet."
"It was all carried live on Chinese television, and Americans compared the encounter to Reagan's back-and-forth with Gorbachev, or Nixon and Khrushchev."
"Times have changed; before Trump had even departed the U.S. for Asia, the administration was already saying that there would be no press questions during the press conference."