A relationship as complicated as America’s with China, even a positive sign like the talks being productive is a sign that there has been progress.

Nine months after Joe Biden was elected president, both sides now appear to be working together to reduce tensions that have been triggered by the Trump administration — despite U.S. concerns about Chinese trade policies with Taiwan and other issues.

The public acrimony displayed at previous meetings did not accompany the Wednesday closed-door meeting between Yang Jiechi, senior Chinese foreign policy advisor, and Jake Sullivan, White House national security adviser.

The U.S. revealed a principle agreement for a virtual summit between Biden, Xi Jinping and the Chinese leader by the end the year. Biden was elected president in January. They have spoken by phone twice before but never held a formal meeting.

As they vie for their rightful places in the global order, major differences exist between what are by most measures the two most powerful countries in the world. While some differences may not be mutually agreeable over regional security, trade and technology, successful negotiations could resolve them and prevent any spillovers that might hinder cooperation in other areas like climate change.

Drew Thompson, an ex-defense official from the United States who managed military-tomilitary relations between the U.S. and China, Taiwan, and Mongolia, said that “I don’t believe this marks the turning point and somehow we’ll have a gold era but maybe we’ve found the floor or a floor in which the relationships will not sink any deeper.”

Thompson, a visiting fellow from the National University of Singapore, stated that the meeting in Zurich was “spectacularly successful” compared with a March meeting in Alaska, Yang and Sullivan attended, and other U.S.–China meetings over the past three years.

Zhao Kejin, a professor at Tsinghua University Beijing in international relations, said that the current direction was an attempt to reduce tensions. He also suggested that a Xi-Biden conference could be a capstone of those efforts.

He stated that “compared to the tensions during Trump’s administration, the current relationships is moving towards mitigation.” “We will wait to see how far it moves.

Two weeks ago, the relationship’s thorn was lifted when U.S.prosecutors made a deal to end long-running extradition proceedings in Canada. This allowed the Chinese telecom executive to return to China.

Two Canadians who were held in China for over two years were freed, and two Americans who were prevented from leaving China were allowed to return to the United States.

Chinese state media reported earlier this week that Katherine Tai, Biden’s top trade representative, said she planned to have open conversations with Chinese counterparts about resolving the tariff war. However, the U.S. administration has yet to say whether it will comply with Chinese demands to reduce tariffs that were imposed under former President Donald Trump.

There are no signs of a slowing down in regional security. China’s territorial ambitions and strategic ambitions in western Pacific are being challenged by the U.S. military, its allies, and their allies.

China flew an unprecedented number of military aircraft south to Taiwan in the last week. This was a record-breaking flight that the U.S. considered dangerous and destabilizing. These flights were made as five countries and the United States conducted joint naval maneuvers with three aircraft carrier northeast of Taiwan. China refers to such exercises as provocations.

Biden is also being pressured by Republicans and human rights activists to keep a firm hand on China, even though his administration seeks cooperation in climate change and to get North Korea to stop its nuclear weapons program.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, said Wednesday that Biden is “dangerously ludicrous” if he believes he can reach a climate agreement by playing down China’s “great-power competition”.

Beijing residents were cautious about future relations. However, some felt it was better for both sides to talk than not. They blamed the U.S. hostile stance for the current state of relations, echoing that of the Chinese government.

He Taiqin stated, “I don’t have a positive impression of the U.S.” “I feel that the country is aggressive and overbearing.”