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On the surface, the low-profile meeting between the top diplomats of China and the United States in Hawaii last week was notable mostly for its being held, showing that despite bilateral relations being at its lowest ebb in four decades, the two can still talk to each other.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hosted Yang Jiechi, a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo and Director of the party’s Foreign Affairs Commission, at Hickam Air Force Base and the two spoke for six hours over two days, topped by a dinner.

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