In­fra­struc­ture, says Fu, can link na­tions

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS -

Fu Ying sees in­fra­struc­ture as a great op­por­tu­nity for US-China co­op­er­a­tion un­der the West­ern coun­try’s pres­i­dent-elect.

“You need a big­ger har­bor,” said Fu, chair­woman of the For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress of China, draw­ing chuck­ling from the au­di­ence dur­ing a Chi­naUS fo­rum on Thursday held by New York Univer­sity and the China-US Ex­change Foun­da­tion at the NYU Law School.

Fu said that the CEO of China’s largest ship­ping com­pany, COSCO Group, told US leg­is­la­tors two years ago that their coun­try had to up­grade its ports to in­crease its ex­ports.

“But Amer­ica doesn’t want to take in­vest­ment from other coun­tries, like China, and you don’t in­vest your­self,” she quoted the CEO as say­ing.

The elec­tion of Don­ald Trump may bring a new phase, she said, be­cause he vowed to “trans­form Amer­ica’s crum­bling in­fra­struc­ture”.

“The US needs to be more open. I think there can be very, very good co­op­er­a­tion,” said Fu, who for­merly served as China’s am­bas­sador to Aus­tralia and the United King­dom. “China bor­rowed from all over the world to build our in­fra­struc­ture, and now we are build­ing rail­ways and high­ways in Africa.”

Asked if she wor­ries about a chang­ing land­scape of US-China re­la­tions un­der the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, Fu said it was too soon to tell, but she is not pes­simistic.

She said the phone call be­tween Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and Trump was “very en­cour­ag­ing”, as Trump agreed with Xi that co­op­er­a­tion is the only choice be­tween the two coun­tries, and they will ad­vance the re­la­tion­ships to bring more ben­e­fits to the peo­ple of the two coun­tries.

She said a trade war be­tween the two was un­likely.

“It will bring too much dam­age after some cal­cu­la­tion,” Fu said. “Es­pe­cially (be­cause) your pres­i­dent-elect is a busi­ness­man. He’s smart enough.”

But she hopes for trade and in­vest­ment be­tween the coun­tries to im­prove, and wants the US to be more clear and con­sis­tent with its mes­sage.

She sug­gested the US govern­ment and po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates should be more care­ful with rhetoric about China. “Peo­ple are lis­ten­ing. The world is lis­ten­ing,” she said.

Also in at­ten­dance was J. Sta­ple­ton Roy, a se­nior US diplo­mat who spent much of his ca­reer in Bei­jing, Hong Kong and Taipei.

Roy agreed with Fu on the idea of in­fra­struc­ture, and said the two coun­tries should fur­ther co­op­er­ate on cli­mate change and cybersecurity. He said the US may still par­tic­i­pate in China’s Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive even though it was not in­ter­ested in join­ing the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank project, which he con­sid­ered a mis­take.

Fu said, “We were sur­prised and dis­ap­pointed that the US was against” the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank. “But the US is es­pe­cially wel­come to join the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, with all the ad­van­tages the US has.”

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