Frost thaws in US-China ties ahead of G20 meeting


Wed, Nov 07, 2018 - Page 1

The US and China are to hold a delayed top-level security dialogue on Friday, the latest sign of a thaw in relations, as the Chinese vice president said Beijing was willing to talk with Washington to resolve their bitter trade dispute.

The resumption of high-level dialogue, marked last week by a telephone call between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), comes ahead of an expected meeting between the two at the G20 summit in Argentina later this month.

It follows months of recriminations spanning trade, US accusations of Chinese political interference, the disputed South China Sea and Taiwan.

China and the US have both described last week’s telephone call between Trump and Xi as positive. Trump predicted that he would be able to make a deal with China on trade.

In a concrete sign of the unfreezing, the US Department of State said that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Chinese State Counselor Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪) and Chinese Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe (魏鳳和) would take part in diplomatic and security talks in Washington.

China last month said the two sides had initially agreed “in principle” to hold a second round of diplomatic security talks last month, but that they were postponed at Washington’s request amid rising tensions over trade, Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Mattis had been due last month to hold talks with Wei in Beijing, but those plans were upended after Washington imposed sanctions on China’s People’s Liberation Army for buying weapons from Russia.

Mattis did meet Wei in Singapore on Oct. 18 and told him that the world’s two largest economies needed to deepen high-level ties to reduce the risk of conflict.

Speaking in Singapore yesterday, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan (王岐山), who is close to Xi, reiterated China’s readiness to hold discussions and work with the US to resolve trade disputes as the world’s two largest economies stand to lose from the confrontation.

“Both China and the US would love to see greater trade and economic cooperation,” Wang told the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore.

“The Chinese side is ready to have discussions with the US on issues of mutual concern and work for a solution on trade acceptable to both sides,” he said. “The world today faces many major problems that require close cooperation between China and the United States.”