China-US relations

China in touch with Donald Trump’s team and open to meeting at Davos, says senior official

Deputy foreign affairs minister says Beijing willing to arrange for meetings at World Economic Forum later this month

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 January, 2017, 10:46am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 January, 2017, 11:30pm

Beijing is open to a meeting with US president-elect Donald Trump’s team at this month’s World Economic Forum, a senior Chinese official has said.

“China has good contacts with the present US government, and also has a smooth communication channel with Trump’s team,” deputy foreign minister Li Baodong said on Wednesday.

Li was responding to a query on the possibility of a meeting between President Xi Jinping and Trump’s team members when they attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, from January 17 to 20.

State Councillor Yang Jiechi met retired general ­Michael Flynn, the US president-elect’s nominee for national security adviser, and other Trump team members in New York last month.

Xi Jinping to be first Chinese president to attend Davos World Economic Forum

As the first Chinese head of state to attend the winter gathering of political and business leaders in Davos, Xi was keen to promote economic globalisation along a more inclusive path, and to discuss how to weather the global economic difficulties that lay ahead, Li said.

Trump’s inauguration is on January 20. Xi will attend the Davos forum as part of a state visit to Switzerland from January 15 to 18.

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World Economic Forum executive chairman Klaus Schwab said “someone from the transition team representing the new [Trump] administration” would attend the forum, according to Reuters.

US Vice-President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry would also be there, Schwab said.

“During the annual meeting in Davos, China is willing to exchange ideas with all parties [at the forum],” Li said, adding that bilateral meetings were still being discussed. “As long as both sides have the time and will, we are willing to arrange for meetings.”

Commenting on why Xi had broken with past practice of sending the premier or other top officials to Davos and decided to attend himself, Li said the head of state’s decision came after “years of invitations from WEF executive chairman Klaus Schwab”.

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Xi attached great importance to global trade, Li said, adding that the president would deliver a speech during the opening ceremony and have “candid, open” exchanges with all parties at the forum to address issues in the global economy.

Foreign businesses in China have criticised Beijing for restricting their market access and giving domestic rivals an unfair advantage over them. China has also been accused of dumping its ­excess manufacturing capacity on the global market.

Li said China had always been opposed to trade protectionism. Xi would share experiences of China’s economic reforms during the forum and let the world have an “objective understanding” of the Chinese economy, he said.

Don’t worry about China’s slowing economic growth, Li Keqiang tells Davos

China has long regarded the World Economic Forum as a global platform to voice its views. Chinese premiers have led delegations and spoken at previous years’ events – either the winter session in Davos or the summer one in Tianjin or Dalian.

Last year, Vice-President Li Yuanchao attended the Davos forum instead of Premier Li Keqiang. At that time, Chinese capital markets were reeling from a failed attempt to stem dramatic swings in its stocks and struggling with massive capital flight.