Pause signal between US and China, a “low note” of hopes

Tuesday, 2018-11-13 13:06:58
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Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan meets former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger in Beijing last weekend. (Photo: Xinhua)
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NDO – In the context of constantly escalating tensions in United States-China relations over recent months, the meetings between senior officials of the two sides last weekend is considered a necessary “low note” helping both countries move towards “dialogue instead of confrontation”.

The regional and international media gave special attention to the meetings between US and Chinese officials surrounding the issues of security, trade and bilateral ties. Statements of the two sides’ officials during their meetings indicated that both the US and China expressed a softer and more flexible view and more goodwill for cooperation dialogue. In his meeting with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in Beijing last weekend, Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He said that China and the US “should properly solve issues in areas including the economy and trade under the guidance of the consensus reached by the two countries’ leaders”. The two sides should seek to resolve their economic disputes on the principles of “mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit”, he added.

The aforementioned stance was also emphasised by China’s Vice-President Wang Qishan during his reception for Kissinger. The Xinhua News Agency cited Vice-President Wang as stressing the significance of the US-China relations to the two countries in particular and to the world as a whole. According to the Chinese official, the bilateral relationship has been experiencing ups and downs for the past four decades, but generally has progressed and brought about huge benefits for the people of both countries. Vice-President Wang called on the US and China to “follow the trend of the times.” Accordingly, the two countries should further strengthen mutual understanding, accelerate cooperation, satisfactorily resolve disputes, seek ways to get along with each other in the new situation, and further promote bilateral relations in the following years.

Despite not giving “winged words” about the US-China ties, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger voiced his support for the enhancement of dialogue and cooperation between the two sides. He affirmed that the US and China “share more common interests than differences”, while agreeing that the two countries need to address the current issues through fair dialogue and consultation in order to achieve a consensus on the future development of bilateral relations.

Meanwhile, in the defence diplomacy channel, US and Chinese officials expressed their less-stiff views in bilateral and regional issues, affirming their desire for dialogue and avoiding confrontation. Over the weekend, the second US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue took place in Washington. Addressing a press conference after the meeting, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that “the US is not pursuing a cold war or containment policy with China”. Meanwhile, the Chinese side made statements of goodwill for cooperation with the US. Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe affirmed that the two sides should seriously implement the common perception that Party General Secretary and President of China Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump have achieved over recent times. Accordingly, the two sides should strive to avoid conflicts and confrontation, respect each other and conduct win-win cooperation so as to make positive contributions to world peace and prosperity.

The speeches of cooperation goodwill were delivered by US and Chinese officials as the US-China relations have seen escalating tensions over recent months, following the two sides’ continuous moves of mutual retaliation by imposing new taxes on each other’s commodities. So far, Washington has imposed high tariffs on US$250 billion worth of Chinese goods and is threatening to impose new tariffs on another US$267 billion worth of Chinese commodities if the two sides fail to reach an agreement on trade. Inversely, Beijing has retaliated with tariffs against US$110 billion worth of US products.

Trade tensions have had a negative impact on the economies of both countries, with potential to lead large economies to suffer and push the global economy to the brink of crisis. Specifically, if the trade war spreads to the European Union (EU), Japan, Canada, Mexico, and the Republic of Korea, it is estimated that over a five-year period (2019-2023) the global economic growth rate will decrease by 2.7% compared to the scenario of no trade war.

In the aforementioned context, the pause signal delivered by Washington and Beijing is a necessary “low note”, sparking hopes for the neutralisation of the US-China and global trade wars.