Washington – Three months after US President Donald Trump hosted a lavish welcome for his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at his Florida resort, the powers have made headway on an ambitious economic plan even as diplomatic rifts between them have widened.

Speaking in Paris on Thursday, the American leader was full of praise for Xi, proclaiming him a “friend” for whom he has “great respect”, a “great leader” and a “very talented man.”

The expressions of admiration have gone both ways — a day earlier Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang had hailed “positive advances” in China-US economic cooperation based on a spirit of “consensus” between the two leaders.

Both sides see moderate progress on a wide-ranging 100-day economic action plan, first unveiled at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in April that covers such areas as financial services, investment, energy and trade — a topic close to the US president’s heart.

Evans Revere, an analyst at Brookings Institution, told AFP: “Both sides seem to share the view that the 100-day plan is largely on track.”

© POOL SAUL LOEB US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shake hands prior to a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany on July 8, 2017

© POOL SAUL LOEB – US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shake hands prior to a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany on July 8, 2017