Have trade talks begun? US National Security Adviser John Bolton meets top Chinese diplomat ahead of G20

  • Yang Jiechi says two countries must manage differences to ensure success of Xi-Trump meeting in Argentina
  • He says they should also step up military communications and cooperation against terrorism
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 November, 2018, 11:15am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 November, 2018, 7:25pm

A top Chinese diplomat said China and the United States must work for a solution to end their trade war and ensure an expected meeting later this month between their presidents yields results.

Yang Jiechi, a Communist Party Politburo member, made the remarks in a meeting with US National Security Adviser John Bolton at the White House, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Beijing has been extending efforts to lower tensions with the US ahead of the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina. In a separate meeting in Beijing on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger that the Chinese and American economies were highly complementary.

The meetings happened as the US midterm elections saw the Democrats win control of the House of Representatives and the Republicans expand their control of the Senate.

Yang is in the US for security and diplomatic talks that start on Friday. That dialogue will be attended by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, US Defence Secretary James Mattis and Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe.

Xi makes fresh promises to open China’s economy, boost imports

Bolton, who is widely seen as being hostile to China, vowed last month to intensify Washington’s tough approach, saying Beijing was a “major issue this century”.

In their meeting, Yang said the two countries had to properly manage their differences to ensure the effectiveness of talks between Xi and Trump.

“The nature of the China-US trade relationship is mutually beneficial. Both sides have to work out an acceptable solution through negotiations on an equal and mutually beneficial basis,” Yang was quoted as saying.

No quick fix to US-China trade war – even with a Trump-Xi meeting

China and the United States should also step up military communications and cooperation against terrorism, he said.

Yang described Taiwan as the most important and sensitive issue of China-US relations, adding that Washington should abide by the one-China principle.

The officials are meeting at a time of high tension between the two countries over tit-for-tat trade tariffs and military encounters in the South China Sea.

Nevertheless, Trump said last week after speaking to Xi on the telephone that he would likely make a deal with China on trade, and that the two leaders had had “very good discussions”.

China’s leaders have also been keen to extend an olive branch to the US. Xi said at an import expo in Shanghai on Monday that China would further open its markets, while on Thursday Vice-President Wang Qishan told a forum in Singapore attended by former US officials and business representatives that Beijing was willing to work with Washington to resolve the trade war.

Xi Jinping promises greater opening up at China International Import Expo

Jin Canrong, an international relations professor at Renmin University of China in Beijing, said at the meeting on Friday he expected officials to try to set the tone for a positive meeting between Xi and Trump in Buenos Aires by clarifying the new China-US relationship.

“We can have competition, but we don’t want it to become adversarial,” he said. “Strategic competition is a reality, because the US has defined China as a primary strategic competitor, and we can’t change the nature of this.

“China’s goal is to make the relationship a bit more stable, but we don’t know if we can get this result.”