US and China may meet at Singapore's 'Davos', WEF says

Beijing has been pushing for greater global influence in a challenge to traditional US leadership. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE (REUTERS) - United States President Joe Biden's new administration may hold meetings with their Chinese counterparts at a World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Singapore in May, the organisation's president said on Friday (Jan 29).

Mr Borge Brende was speaking in a virtual dialogue with Singapore's prime minister, who called for a reset of the relationship between the two superpowers.

"Singapore has had very close ties with the US but also worked very well with China," Mr Brende said.

"The special annual meeting could be a place where you could see the new Biden administration and China meet."

The meeting has been moved from its usual home in the Swiss town of Davos, from where it takes its informal name, to Singapore over concerns about Covid-19 in Europe.

Beijing has been pushing for greater global influence in a challenge to traditional US leadership. Relations between the two nations soured under former US president Donald Trump's administration over trade tariffs and Mr Trump's criticism of China's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

"It cannot possibly be too late for the US and China to reset the tone of their interactions, and avert a clash between them," said Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong.

"The new US administration is an opportunity to steer the relationship towards safer waters," he said, adding the US-China relationship should become a key strategic priority for Mr Biden.

Neither China or the US has said whether they will send officials to the meeting due to be held from May 25-28, over which there remains uncertainty, given the pandemic still raging across many parts of the world.

Mr Lee said Singapore would work with the forum to ensure the health and safety of all.

"I welcome all of you to Singapore in May... and forge a new path forward together," Mr Lee said in prepared remarks.

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