There was the following passage in New Yorker’s (November 18) article that came under the title, ”Is China really going green?”:
“But here was President Xi Jinping pledging that, by 2030, his country’s carbon emissions would max out, and energy from renewable sources would meet twenty per cent of its total energy needs.
In a sense, there’s less to the deal than meets the eye. It’s non-binding, and, as the White House statementabout it makes clear, the dates aren’t necessarily firm. --Clearly, there’s wiggle room on both sides.”
I also found the same phrase,
“There’s less than meets the eye in the latest “blockbuster” realignment of leading Canadian media assets unveiled Friday”
I think I can guess what “There’s less to the deal than meets the eye” means from its context, but not very sure. How could it be replaced in straighter words? Is this a common expression or popular saying?