Xi says US-China ties at a ‘hinge mo­ment’

The Myanmar Times - - World -

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

With­out re­fer­ring to Mr Trump, Mr Xi spoke of his hope for a “smooth tran­si­tion” in a re­la­tion­ship that Mr Obama de­scribed as “the most con­se­quen­tial in the world”.

The two men were meet­ing in Lima, Peru, on the mar­gins of the Asi­aPa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion (APEC) sum­mit.

Dur­ing a vit­riol-filled elec­tion cam­paign Mr 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 Mr Trump’s lack of de­tails on the is­sues, has urged world lead­ers to give Mr Trump time to find his feet.

For much of Mr 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.

Mr Xi – who 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 Mr Obama took of­fice in early 2009.

Mr Obama said he wanted to “take this op­por­tu­nity to note our work to build a more durable and pro­duc­tive set of bi­lat­eral ties”.

Mr 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.

Mr 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 it has been to push sanc­tions against North Korea over its bal­lis­tic and nu­clear weapons pro­grams.

Mr Obama said he and Mr Xi “are united on our strong op­po­si­tion to North Korea’s provo­ca­tions, and we will in­ten­sify our ef­forts to de-nu­cle­arise 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 minia­turised 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 US$530 mil­lion in trade with North Korea be­tween 2011 and 2015. –

Photo: AFP

Xi Jin­ping hopes for a smooth tran­si­tion in the China-US re­la­tion­ship.

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