SINGAPORE - A day after Chinese President Xi Jinping took a swipe at trade rival US President Donald Trump for his protectionist policies, his right-hand man took a more conciliatory stance at a global forum of top thinkers and business leaders, hinting the US-China trade stand-off should come to an end.
In his keynote speech at the first Bloomberg New Economy Forum at the Capella Singapore on Tuesday morning (Nov 6), Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan was forceful in denouncing trade unilateralism, while espousing the importance of settling any disputes through a rules-based system.
The world today faces many problems that require close cooperation between the US and China, he said, emphasising that both sides will gain from working together and lose from confrontation.
"China will stay calm and sober-minded and embrace greater openness. Both China and the US would love to see greater trade and cooperation. We're ready to discuss and work for a solution on trade that is acceptable to both sides," he said.
Mr Wang's appearance as the high-level forum's keynote speaker was announced just days ago, heightening excitement given his hefty political influence and close relationship with President Xi.
The forum, organised by media conglomerate Bloomberg, was originally slated to be held in Beijing. Organisers moved it to Singapore after the conference's Chinese partner requested that it be postponed to next year, as it clashed with China's ambitious inaugural China International Import Expo in Shanghai, which President Xi opened on Monday.
It was at this expo that the Chinese leader warned of the dangers of protectionist trade policies, vowing to open up China even more and strengthen intellectual property protection.
Mr Wang's speech to an audience which included former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, former US Treasury secretary Hank Paulson and host Michael Bloomberg, largely reiterated China's call for sticking to the principles of mutual respect, openness, and building consensus so that economic benefits can be shared by all.
He also took the opportunity to repeat the oft-cited need to understand China's history and its past humiliation by imperial powers, and how that has shaped the Chinese psyche.
"China has to blaze a trail of its own," he said.
Mr Wang's official visit to Singapore also included a call on President Halimah Yacob at the Istana on Monday.