Wang’s re­mark seen as sig­nal to ease ten­sion

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By AN BAIJIE in Bei­jing and ZHAO HUANXIN in Wash­in­ton

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.

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