WASHINGTON / SINGAPORE (Reuters) – US and China to hold high-level security talks on Friday, the latest sign of a softening of relations, while Chinese vice president said Beijing is ready to meet with Washington to resolve their bitter dispute.
FILE PHOTO: A container ship is seen moored at the port of New York and New Jersey in Bayonne, New Jersey, United States, September 23, 2018. REUTERS / Mike Segar / Photo File / Photo File
The resumption of the high-level dialogue, marked by a phone call last week between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, precedes a planned meeting between the two at the G20 summit in Argentina from late November.
This follows months of trade grumblings, US accusations of Chinese political interference, the disputed South China Sea and Taiwan's self-government.
Both China and the United States have described last week's phone call between Xi and Trump as positive. Trump predicted he could conclude a trade deal with China.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Chinese politburo member Yang Jiechi and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe will participate in the diplomatic and security negotiations that will take place in the United States. during the week in Washington.
China said last month that the two sides initially agreed "in principle" to hold the second round of diplomatic talks on security in October, but that these negotiations have been postponed at the request of Washington because of the rise of trade-related tensions in Taiwan and the South China Sea.
Mattis was scheduled to hold talks with Wei in Beijing in October, but these plans were canceled after Washington imposed sanctions on the People's Liberation Army of China for buying arms from Russia.
Mattis met Wei in Singapore on Oct. 18 and told him that the two largest economies in the world needed to strengthen their high-level ties to reduce the risk of conflict.
Speaking in Singapore on Tuesday, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, close to Xi, reiterated China's willingness to lead discussions and work with the United States to resolve trade disputes in the face of confrontation of the world's two largest economies.
"China and the United States would like to see increased trade and economic cooperation," Wang said at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore.
"The Chinese side is ready to discuss with the United States issues of common interest and to work for a trade solution acceptable to both sides," he said.
"Today's world is facing many major problems that require close cooperation between China and the United States," Wang said.
Wang echoed Xi's remarks Monday at a major import fair in Shanghai, according to which Beijing would adopt a greater openness.
Trump protested China over intellectual property theft, barriers to the entry of US companies and a gaping trade deficit, which, according to US data, hit a record 40.2 billion in September.
The trade war, which saw both parties impose tariffs on billions of dollars in imports from the other party, is beginning to hurt the Chinese economy and has weakened Chinese equities and the yuan.
It has also virtually paralyzed US soybean purchases by China. Soy is the largest US agricultural export to China.
Jim Sutter, CEO of the US Soybean Export Council, told Reuters, on the sidelines of the Shanghai import show, that both countries understood the need to maintain their relations.
"I think both sides are optimistic … more optimistic after last week's call, that any solution can be found," he said.
Report by David Brunnstrom and John Geddie; Other reports by Tom Daly and Michael Martina in Shanghai; Written by Ben Blanchard; Edited by Tony Munroe and Neil Fullick