China, Trump en­voy may meet at Davos

Talks pos­si­ble next week on World Eco­nomic Fo­rum side­lines

China Daily - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG YUNBI zhangyunbi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

World at­ten­tion is be­ing drawn to the pos­si­bil­ity of a meet­ing of rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the world’s two largest economies at the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum an­nual meet­ing at Davos, Switzer­land next week.

With con­cerns over trade pro­tec­tion­ism and anti-glob­al­iza­tion swirling, there are signs that the Chi­nese del­e­ga­tion could meet on the side­lines with the tran­si­tion team of US pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump. Such a meet­ing could help nar­row po­si­tions on trade and sen­si­tive po­lit­i­cal is­sues, ob­servers said.

Un­cer­tainty over those po­si­tions has rocked Asia-Pa­cific na­tions that would be the most af­fected by a trade war or a se­cu­rity con­flict, they said.

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping will lead the Chi­nese del­e­ga­tion to Switzer­land for a state visit from Sun­day to Wednesday. On Tues­day, he will be­come the first top Chi­nese leader to at­tend the Davos meet­ing.

Given that Trump will take of­fice on Jan 20, “some­one from the tran­si­tion team rep­re­sent­ing the new ad­min­is­tra­tion” will at­tend the fo­rum, Klaus Sch­wab, fo­rum ex­ec­u­tive chair­man, said on Tues­day. It re­mains un­clear who that would be.

Asked whether a Trump rep­re­sen­ta­tive would meet with the Chi­nese del­e­ga­tion at Davos, Vice-For­eign Min­is­ter Li Baodong said on Wednesday at a news brief­ing on Xi’s trip that “there are open chan­nels of com­mu­ni­ca­tion” be­tween Bei­jing and Trump’s team.

Bei­jing is willing to ar­range meet­ings with var­i­ous par­ties if time per­mits on the side­lines of the Davos fo­rum, so “the rel­e­vant two-way meet­ings are be­ing dis­cussed”, Li said, with­out di­rectly con­firm­ing a meet­ing with the Trump team.

Also on Wednesday, ViceFor­eign Min­is­ter Liu Zhen­min said Bei­jing hopes that “the US re­spects China’s in­ter­ests and con­cerns in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion”, adding that China is “willing to main­tain con­tacts with the new US ad­min­is­tra­tion over Asia-Pa­cific af­fairs and dis­cuss co­op­er­a­tion”.

Se­cu­rity in the Asia-Pa­cific can­not be main­tained by the US alone as it re­quires joint ef­forts by all coun­tries, par­tic­u­larly the ma­jor coun­tries, Liu said Shi at Yin­hong,a news con­fer­ence.a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at R en min Univer­sity of China in Bei­jing, said if the Davos meet­ing hap­pens, Trump’s en­voy might press Bei­jing on fi­nan­cial is­sues and the Tai­wan ques­tion. Zhong Feit­eng, a re­searcher on Asia-Pa­cific stud­ies at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, said that China may ask the new Cab­i­net to be cau­tious on trade poli­cies, and at­ten­tion will be given to the Tai­wan ques­tion and the South China Sea is­sue to pre­vent a de­te­ri­o­rat­ing re­gional se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion. Zhang Yan­sheng, sec­re­tary­gen­eral of the Na­tional Devel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion’s Aca­demic Com­mit­tee, said Trump’s team is ad­vo­cat­ing anti-glob­al­iza­tion mea­sures and trade pro­tec­tion­ism to try to gain an ad­van­tage for the US. Trump’s team said sec­re­tary of state nom­i­nee Rex Tiller­son would knock China’s is­lands con­struc­tion pro­gram in the South China Sea and its poli­cies on Py­ongyang’s nu­clear pro­gram, Reuters re­ported. Tiller­son’s con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing was held on Wednesday.

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