US, China must compromise to reach deal: Chinese official

Chinese Vice-Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen told media on June 24, 2019, that discussions between the Chinese and US trade teams are underway.
Chinese Vice-Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen told media on June 24, 2019, that discussions between the Chinese and US trade teams are underway.PHOTO: AFP

Both China and the United States must be willing to compromise if they are to reach a deal when presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump meet at the G-20 Summit this week, a Chinese trade official has said.

Vice-Minister for Commerce Wang Shouwen said at a news briefing yesterday that trade teams from both sides are in talks. He did not elaborate, but stressed that China negotiates on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.

"An agreement reached has to be beneficial for both sides, and meeting each other halfway means both sides must be willing to compromise - not just one side giving way," said Mr Wang, who is part of China's negotiating team.

He declined to answer a question on what specific compromises Mr Xi is willing to make to reach a deal with Mr Trump.

But he said the question of US sanctions on Chinese companies such as technology giant Huawei had to be addressed.

Last Friday, the US Commerce Department added five more Chinese firms, involved in supercomputing, to a national security "entity list", effectively cutting off their access to US technology and components.

Talks to reach a trade agreement between the two countries fell apart last month after US officials accused China of backing away from previously made commitments. Both sides have since raised fresh tariffs on each other's goods. The US has imposed additional tariffs on US$200 billion (S$271 billion) worth of Chinese goods, and Beijing did likewise on US$60 billion of US goods.

 

China will not brook any discussion of Hong Kong at the G-20, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Zhang Jun said at the same briefing. He described the meeting as a forum to discuss global economic issues.

The semi-autonomous city was hit by huge demonstrations this month after its government pushed for a controversial Bill that would have allowed for extraditions to the mainland. There is widespread apprehension in Hong Kong towards the Bill because many continue to be wary about the opaque legal system in China. There is also fear that the Bill would have allowed Beijing to target political dissidents and other critics as well as damage the city's status as a business hub.

The Hong Kong government, which failed to assuage the concerns, has been forced to shelve the Bill.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said last week that Mr Trump would raise the issue of human rights at his extended meeting with Mr Xi in Osaka, alongside other issues.

"I can tell you with certainty that the G-20 will not discuss the Hong Kong issue, and we will not allow the G-20 to discuss the Hong Kong issue," said Mr Zhang.

"I want to emphasise once more that Hong Kong affairs are purely China's internal affairs, and no foreign country has the right to intervene."

Chinese officials also said Beijing would rally G-20 members to support multilateralism and a rules-based international order at a time of growing unilateralism, protectionism and economic uncertainty.

Analysts have expressed concern that the US-China trade war threatens to overshadow this year's summit, the same way it dominated discussions in Argentina last year.

 
 
 

Without naming the US outright, Mr Wang said China would call for collective support of free trade by G-20 members in the face of "an individual country that has been insisting on... abusing trade remedial measures and national security exceptionalism and who has slapped tariffs on its trading partners, causing a major threat to global trade".

Vice-Minister for Finance Zou Jiayi said that G-20 members shared the view that trade frictions and geopolitical tensions remained the most prominent risks to the global economy.

Mr Chen Yulu, vice-governor of China's central bank, warned that global economic and financial risks are rising significantly.

President Xi will be busy at the G-20 Summit, according to Mr Zhang, with a packed schedule including meetings with the leaders of the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) emerging economies, African leaders, and a trilateral discussion with his counterparts from India and Russia as well as a string of bilateral engagements.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2019, with the headline 'US, China must compromise to reach deal: Chinese official'. Print Edition | Subscribe