G20 summit: China warns against repeat of Apec failure

  • Chinese official calls for talks on WTO reform and united opposition to protectionism
PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 November, 2018, 1:13pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 November, 2018, 11:16pm

China has warned against a repeat at the upcoming G20 summit of the failure of Apec nations to take a united stand on economic development last weekend.

China issued the warning on Friday as preparations were under way for Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump to meet on the sidelines of the G20 gathering in Buenos Aires, Argentina, next week.

Chinese vice-minister of commerce Wang Shouwen said Beijing did not wish to see the failure of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum happen again.

“On the reform of the World Trade Organisation and multilateral trade organisations, certain members insisted on imposing their own interest first at the expense of other members’ interests,” Wang said. “So there was no consensus reached on this issue, nor was there a joint declaration produced after the leaders’ summit.

“We do not want to see the same situation happen again at the G20.

“We hope the G20 can discuss WTO reform, and express opposition to unilateralism and protectionism.”

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Wang did not refer directly to the United States but tensions are on the rise between the world’s two biggest economies, with the US and China embroiled in a trade war and Xi and US Vice-President Mike Pence trading barbs over trade practices at Apec.

There are hopes that Xi’s meeting with Trump will calm tensions, but Chinese officials said any success in Buenos Aires would rest on a foundation of mutual respect.

“We hope that both sides can discuss and find solutions based on mutual respect, equal, integrity and mutually beneficial principles,” Wang Shouwen said.

That sentiment was echoed by vice foreign minister Wang Chao.

“We hope the exchange between the two countries’ leaders can have a positive impact on the improvement and further development of China-US relations. We look forward to the meeting being held smoothly,” Wang Chao said on Friday.

“All sides at the Apec summit made great efforts to reach consensus. But some members insisted on imposing their will on other members … resulting in the absence of a leaders’ statement. We feel it is regretful.”

The South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday that a “one plus six” arrangement – meaning each president will take a team of six officials – was likely to be made for the leaders’ talks in Argentina.

Washington has demanded Beijing improve market access and intellectual property protections for American firms, cut industrial subsidies and reduce a US$375 billion trade gap.

Trump has imposed tariffs on US$250 billion of Chinese imports in an effort to force concessions.

The US president has threatened to impose tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports – about US$267 billion more in goods.

The senior officials said that while China hoped that more positive results could be achieved at the G20, all discussions should be conducted on the basis of “mutual respect” and that China would not accept measures that would harm its interests.

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Assistant foreign minister Zhang Jun said “the process of G20 should be about gathering consensus and narrowing differences”.

“The Chinese side resolutely opposes and will not accept initiatives or measures that will harm China’s core interests,” he said.

In an update on its investigation into China’s intellectual property and technology transfer policies on Tuesday, the US said that China had failed to alter its “unfair” practices – an accusation China rejected.

Trump said on Friday that China wanted to make a deal because of the tariffs, and hailed his “great relationship” with Xi.

“I am very prepared. I have been preparing for it all my life,” he said. “I know every ingredient, every stat [statistic]. I know it better than everybody knows it. My gut is always right”.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse