Former Aus­tralian PM ad­dresses China, US ties

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHANG RUINAN in New York ru­[email protected]­nadai­

Re­la­tions be­tween China and the United States are at a cru­cial mo­ment, and both sides need to think clearly about one an­other through the fog of per­cep­tion and mis­per­cep­tion, the former prime min­is­ter of Aus­tralia and cur­rent pres­i­dent of the Asia So­ci­ety, Kevin Rudd, said on Wed­nes­day.

Rudd added that the meet­ing of the two na­tions’ lead­ers on the side­lines of the G20 Lead­ers’ Sum­mit in Ar­gentina bought valu­able time for them to re­solve their dif­fer­ences.

“Are we now, as Gra­ham Al­li­son warns us, ‘des­tined for war’, or is a new strate­gic equi­lib­rium now pos­si­ble be­tween the two?” Rudd asked the au­di­ence at the Asia So­ci­ety New York dur­ing a dis­cus­sion.

He said that to an­swer such gen­uinely dif­fi­cult ques­tions, peo­ple from the both na­tions need to “think clearly about our val­ues, our in­ter­ests and our iden­tity”.

Such ques­tions “force us to think through care­fully what is es­sen­tial, what is nonessen­tial, where should there be com­pro­mise, and what should re­main con­testable”, he said.

Rudd said the ques­tion “must be an­a­lyzed and an­swered soon” be­cause China-US re­la­tions are now in “po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous ter­rain — some sort of no man’s land be­tween one set of strate­gic as­sump­tions about each other that have stood for sev­eral decades, and a brave new world where ev­ery­thing may be up for grabs”.

Be­fore talk­ing about the prospects

for China-US re­la­tions, Rudd said, it’s im­por­tant to look at the state of the re­la­tion­ship at year’s end in the af­ter­math of the sum­mit in Buenos Aires.

The meet­ing be­tween Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump over the week­end “bought valu­able, though lim­ited, time for them­selves and the world”, he said.

The pres­i­dents agreed to sus­pend a planned US hike in tar­iffs on $200 bil­lion in Chi­nese goods from 10 per­cent to 25 per­cent.

As for China, the Min­istry of Com­merce said on its web­site on Wed­nes­day that Bei­jing will start to quickly im­ple­ment spe­cific items where there’s con­sen­sus with Wash­ing­ton and ad­vance trade ne­go­ti­a­tions within the agreed 90-day timetable.

He said that beyond set­ting a dead­line to re­solve those prob­lems, the 90-day pause also would give the two lead­ers some time to ad­dress do­mes­tic eco­nomic is­sues.

“By March, Trump will have a fuller idea of the lay of his do­mes­tic eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal land­scape. He will then know the ex­tent of any sig­nif­i­cant

soft­en­ing in the econ­omy al­ready in­duced by mon­e­tary pol­icy tight­en­ing by the Fed,” said Rudd.

He said he thinks there’s a pos­si­bil­ity that China will cham­pion global free trade and op­pose the global trend to­ward pro­tec­tion­ism that cur­rently threat­ens the wider global econ­omy with a bold an­nounce­ment on trade lib­er­al­iza­tion across the board.

Chi­nese eco­nomic re­form­ers have seen the greater in­tro­duc­tion of wholly owned for­eign fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions into the Chi­nese do­mes­tic mar­ket as a new way of graft­ing these mar­ket dis­ci­plines onto the Chi­nese sys­tem, Rudd added.

“This year, for ex­am­ple, we have seen a num­ber of for­eign in­vest­ment lim­i­ta­tions eased for en­try into China’s $45 tril­lion fi­nan­cial ser­vices sec­tor,” he said.

Rudd said what con­cerns him most are mis­un­der­stand­ings and mis­per­cep­tions as is­sues are de­bated. “We need to be care­ful about the man­ner in which it is con­ducted in both our coun­tries,” he said.

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