US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands before their bilateral meeting during the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
President Donald Trump showed during the past week's group of 20 meetings in Osaka, Japan what he meant by repeated off-the-cuff comments that he wanted to build good relations with Russia and China.
He had a seemingly friendly and comprehensive discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday. The two leaders agreed that US and Russian officials would continue their consultation on global and regional issues and ways to improve and expand bilateral political and economic ties.
It was followed Saturday at Trump's meeting with China's President Xi Jinping who ̵
Finally, the Trump-Xi meeting ended with a redeeming note. Additional trading rates will be set aside, and the two negotiating groups will pick up where they left off when trade negotiations were interrupted a month ago.
An olive branch to China
Ignoring complaints from US companies about discriminatory treatment in China, Xi also requested that Chinese businesses be treated fairly by US authorities. Trump committed to allowing US companies to sell technology to Chinese telecom giant Huawei in areas that were not critical to national security.
What does all this mean?
First and foremost, it signals the beginning of Trump's strong focus on his reelection campaign, where a shot or worse with Russia and China would be a devastating event and let him be a one-time player – even in the context of a rather uninspiring selection of democratic competitors.
Soothing things with two countries marked by Washington as strategic competitors who are hell on undermining America's world order are a priority – "for now", as Trump likes to say.
And as he would say, "we shall see later", presumably after his re-election.
Will it fly as a possible electoral strategy? Yes it will because, as said earlier, Trump is right to pick a fight with Russia, and China is an existential threat to humanity Americans and the rest of the world will not support.
So, Trump looks for peaceful and negotiated solutions with Russia in Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela, with a carrot for Moscow in opening up great opportunities for US companies, eager to expand their business in the country's heavy-duty investment areas. In fact, the US business delegation was one of the largest in the economic forum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Moscow's allegedly most important political influence on the OPEC oil cartel is also seen as a valuable help in keeping energy prices down, and is holding the Federal Reserve at the heart of migration rates to prevent energy-driven inflationary pressures.
Trump assists Japan's winner
Iran is another problem where Russia has a useful hand.
It is in stark contrast to America's closest allies – Britain, France and Germany – who not only disagree with the United States with Iran against Iran, but also actively oppose Washington's Iran sanctions and have established a special payment facility for doing business with Tehran.
China is a completely different problem. While Russia may be annoying in some global problems and in controlling Europe's century-old hatred, China is already a very credible challenge to the US world order – serious undermining of Washington's ever-unstable transatlantic and Asian alliances.
Some observers have already stated that Trump lost last week in his trade and security conflict with China. It is a quick, thoughtless and unworthy assessment.
However, it is true that Trump's trading history with China was dictated by his domestic considerations. It is also true that Trump seemed to be skulling back his poorly-ridden political assault under the guise of his unacceptable deal with China.
The bottom line, for now, is that Trump has to pay for China's commitment to reduce its US trade surplus, but he must absolutely forget to interfere in China's legislative process and economic policies – hot-button issues that China calls "principle issues."
Trump wasted two and a half years and $ 1 trillion of US money (rising trade deficit with China) in pursuit of political goals that he should have known China would never accept. The one who pushed Trump in that direction deserves his signature "You are fired!" scream.
But Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe deserves kudos. He is a winner and a happy man: Trump pushed China into his lap.
Abe, as a result, should be the first to thank Trump for making Japan's impossible dream come true. Xi, who looked like he was holding his nose for many years with photo ops with Abe, last week accepted an invitation to pay a state visit to Japan next spring.
Now let's see how Trump manages Japan, its large and systematic annual trade surplus of about $ 70 billion on US trades, and Washington's irrevocable commitment to unquestioningly defending what is still called America's most important Asian allies.
Trump has gathered and lifted the sights here and now and may have started a process of lasting world peace. That concept is based on the idea that the United States, Russia and China have been staring for years on an underlying security architecture with a unique binary choice: the end of humanity or a new, hopefully American, world order built around these three key players whose economic and civil interests require peace coexistence.
Trump has begun a process with Russia and China during last week's G20 meeting that could bring lasting peace and economic prosperity to the world.  His geopolitical features may have been largely motivated by his re-election strategy, but they have tremendous potential for creating a new world order based on the foundations of America's inspired and written UN Charter.
China would make a fatal mistake by refusing to grab the olive branch offered by the United States last week. Triumphal hints in Chinese official media do not care well, but let's hope that a more realistic and constructive thinking will prevail.
The world economy is now faced with brighter prospects, although the United States failed to force large and systematic trade surpluses to drive a rise in the global business cycle. As always, Washington must make a heavy boost for the beggar-neighbor countries – just to be convicted of criticism for violating the multilateral trading system.
Comment from Michael Ivanovitch, an independent analyst who focuses on the world economy, geopolitics and investment strategy. He served as senior economist at the OECD in Paris, an international economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and taught economics at Columbia Business School.