Wang’s remark seen as signal to ease tension
Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s warning that there would be “no winner from conflict between China and the US” has sent a signal of easing tension between the two countries at a time when the new US administration’s China policy has yet to take shape, analysts said.
A report released on Tuesday by a bipartisan US task force of China specialists also cautioned the White House not to tamper with Washington’s long-standing one-China policy, and suggested that US President Donald Trump should meet soon with President Xi Jinping.
“Any sober-minded statesman would clearly recognize that there cannot be conflict between China and the United States because both will lose — and both sides cannot afford that,” Wang told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday when asked about the likelihood of a war, given the previous hard-line rhetoric toward China by Trump and some of his key advisers.
The minister urged the US to look back at World War II history while handling South China Sea disputes.
The 1943 Cairo Declaration and 1945 Potsdam Declaration clearly state that Japan must return the Chinese territory it took during the war, including the Nansha Islands, to the Chinese people, Wang said.
If both sides make the effort, SinoUS relations will get past the new US administration’s break-in period and get on better footing, he said, adding that it will take time for the Trump administration to understand China.
In his Senate confirmation hearing last month, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said China should not be allowed access to islands it has built in the South China Sea. The White House also vowed to defend “international territories” in the strategic waterway.
Relations between Beijing and Washington have soured after Trump answered a congratulatory telephone call from Taiwan leader Tsai Ingwen in December and threatened to impose tariffs on Chinese imports.
“It would be dangerous to unilaterally abandon our long-standing ‘ oneChina policy’,” said a report co-written by Orville Schell, a scholar on China studies, and Susan Shirk, a professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego.
The report, titled “US Policy Toward China: Recommendations for a New Administration”, said that “no national interest is furthered by abandoning or conditioning the ‘one-China policy’ on other issues”.
The report was sponsored by the Asia Society’s Center on US-China Relations and the 21st Century China Center of the University of California, San Diego.
Co-author Shirk said: “We were quite worried about the state of ChinaUS relations, because the trends were not good.”
Shi Yinhong, director of the Center of US Studies of Renmin University of China, said the foreign minister’s remarks came at a time when most of Trump’s advisers remain hawkish toward China on issues including trade, Taiwan, the South China Sea and the Korean Peninsula.
By downplaying the possibility of China-US conflicts, Wang has sent a signal to the White House of easing tensions, he said.
“However, there is no sign that Trump may take a more reasonable attitude toward China given the ugly remarks he made” during the election campaign, Shi said.