Chinese leader Xi Jinping's two-day summit meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, overshadowed by the U.S. attack on Syria, gave each president the chance to take the measure of the other and, apparently, each liked what he saw. From the Chinese perspective, things went very well indeed, with China taking the initiative and the Americans going along.

It wasn't supposed to be like that. Trump had plans to pressure Xi to reduce the U.S. trade deficit. Trump also expected Xi to "step up" and help rein in North Korea. Neither thing happened. From the beginning, China felt it had the situation under control. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had shown willingness to placate China by adopting its vocabulary — "no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation" — to describe the relationship.

A major commentary published in the People's Daily April 1, was headlined "Xi Jinping's big diplomatic move draws global attention." It discussed Xi's state visit to Finland, followed by his tete-a-tete in Palm Springs with Trump. This, the official party paper indicated, was Xi's initiative.