Xi says US-China ties at ‘hinge mo­ment’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

LIMA: Pres­i­dents Barack Obama and Xi Jin­ping met for the final time Satur­day, with the Chi­nese leader warn­ing the pe­riod af­ter Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion is a “hinge mo­ment” in re­la­tions be­tween the two pow­ers.

With­out re­fer­ring to Trump di­rectly, Xi spoke of his hope for a “smooth tran­si­tion” in a re­la­tion­ship that Obama de­scribed as “the most con­se­quen­tial in the world.” The two men were meet­ing in Lima, Peru on the mar­gins of an Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion (APEC) sum­mit.

Dur­ing a vit­riol-filled elec­tion cam­paign Trump fre­quently took a com­bat­ive stance against China, blam­ing Bei­jing for “in­vent­ing” cli­mate change and rig­ging the rules of trade. The White House, sur­prised by Trump’s lack of de­tails on the is­sues, has urged world lead­ers to give Trump time to get his feet un­der the desk. For much of Obama’s pres­i­dency, China and the United States have slowly im­proved co­op­er­a­tion and tried to limit the fall­out from dis­putes, all while vy­ing for in­flu­ence in the Asia-Pa­cific. China has been quick to seize on the fail­ure of a US-backed Pa­cific trade deal to push its own ver­sion of the pact-ex­clud­ing Wash­ing­ton at the APEC meet­ing. Xi­who the White House sees as per­haps the most pow­er­ful Chi­nese leader since Deng Xiaop­ing or even Mao Ze­dong-said he wanted to see co­op­er­a­tion con­tinue. “I hope the two sides will work to­gether to fo­cus on co­op­er­a­tion, man­age our dif­fer­ences, and make sure there is a smooth tran­si­tion in the re­la­tion­ship and that it will con­tinue to grow go­ing for­ward.”

The two men have met nine times since Obama took of­fice in early 2009. Obama said he wanted to “take this op­por­tu­nity to note our work to­gether to build a more durable and pro­duc­tive set of bi­lat­eral ties.” “I con­tinue to be­lieve that a con­struc­tive US-China re­la­tion­ship ben­e­fits our two peoples and ben­e­fits the en­tire globe,” he said at the start of the meet­ing. “We’ve demon­strated what’s pos­si­ble when our two coun­tries work to­gether,” he said, cit­ing an agree­ment to tackle cli­mate change.

Ar­eas of ten­sion

Obama also ac­knowl­edged that his eight years guid­ing US-China re­la­tions have seen dif­fi­cul­ties. That pe­riod has seen ten­sions in par­tic­u­lar over China’s seizure of ter­ri­tory it claims in the South China Sea, as well as over the treat­ment of US firms in China. Obama said he ex­pected a “can­did con­ver­sa­tion on ar­eas where we con­tinue to dif­fer, in­clud­ing the cre­ation of a more level play­ing field for our busi­nesses to com­pete, in­no­va­tion poli­cies, ex­cess ca­pac­ity and hu­man rights.”

One area of con­tin­ued ten­sion con­cerns how hard to push sanc­tions against North Korea over its bal­lis­tic and nu­clear weapons pro­grams. Obama said he and Xi “are united on our strong op­po­si­tion to North Korea’s provo­ca­tions, and we will in­ten­sify our ef­forts to de-nu­cle­arize the Korean penin­sula.” The US is push­ing for fur­ther sanc­tions to choke off fund­ing to North Korean weapons pro­grams.

Py­ongyang has launched mul­ti­ple tests to de­velop a minia­tur­ized nu­clear war­head and a mis­sile ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing that deadly pay­load to the United States, alarm­ing the White House. Bei­jing has long dragged its heels on sanc­tion­ing its al­lies in Py­ongyang, fear­ing a flood of refugees if North Korea’s econ­omy col­lapses.

But ear­lier this year Bei­jing moved to sanc­tion a con­glom­er­ate based in China’s fron­tier city of Dan­dong that did an es­ti­mated $530 mil­lion in trade with North Korea be­tween 2011 and 2015. Obama has looked to his Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sor Su­san Rice-who back­packed around China in the late 1980s-to guide much of the re­la­tion­ship. The White House points to some tan­gi­ble progress from those ef­forts, in­clud­ing ty­ing China to limited norms on cy­ber­se­cu­rity af­ter a series of hack­ing scan­dals and mea­sures that in­creased the num­ber of Chi­nese vis­i­tors to the United States. “There is real value in, first of all, more en­gage­ment with China, more di­plo­macy, more chan­nels and mul­ti­fac­eted dis­cus­sions. And of­ten, not al­ways, that can yield progress,” Rice told AFP ahead of the meet­ing.

— AP

LIMA: China’s Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping ar­rives for the open­ing ses­sion of the an­nual Asia Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion (APEC) sum­mit yes­ter­day.

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