Chinese envoy warns against bid to 'contain' Beijing

WASHINGTON • China's ambassador to Washington has said US President Donald Trump's state visit to Beijing next week was a historic opportunity to boost cooperation between the world's top two economies, but warned against attempts to "contain" China.

Mr Cui Tiankai also stressed the urgency of efforts to find a negotiated solution to the crisis over North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes and warned of a "more dangerous" situation if tensions between Washington and Pyongyang continued.

He sought to play down differences over China's massive trade surplus with the US, saying Beijing was looking for ways to cut this and he was confident of "significant outcomes" from Mr Trump's Nov 8-9 visit on the economic front.

Speaking after senior US officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, outlined an Asia-Pacific strategy involving greater cooperation between Japan, India and Australia in the face of China's rise, Mr Cui said relationships should not be seen as a "zero-sum game" at the expense of another county.

"I don't think it will really serve the interests of these countries if their aim is to sort of contain China... I don't think anybody would be able to contain China."

He also said Washington should not try to "interfere" in regional efforts to resolve disputes in the South China Sea. "Maybe it would be better for the US to let the regional countries ... find a way a way of managing the situation," he said.

Mr Cui was asked about a call last Friday by a senior US State Department official for the revival of four-way dialogue between the US, Japan, India and Australia to deepen security cooperation and coordinate alternatives for regional infrastructure financing to "predatory" Chinese options.

"I don't think any attempts to form exclusive clubs in the region ... would help anybody," he said. "When people are saying these things about China, they might just look into the mirror... it might be describing themselves."

Mr Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping held their first summit meeting in Florida in April.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 01, 2017, with the headline 'Chinese envoy warns against bid to 'contain' Beijing'. Print Edition | Subscribe