By K J M Varma
BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the G-20 summit in Japan this week during which he would meet his US counterpart Donald Trump for key talks to clinch a deal to end the bruising trade war and to forestall moves by Washington to clamp tariffs on the remaining USD 300 billion of exports from China.
Xi will attend the 14th Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Osaka, Japan from June 27 to 29, at the invitation of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said in a brief announcement here on Sunday.
Ahead of their planned meeting, Trump and Xi held a detailed telephone talk on June 18 preparing ground to resolve differences impeding the deal to end the year long trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
Trump, who kicked off the trade war last year, is demanding China to reduce the massive trade deficit which climbed to over USD 539 billion last year. He is also insisting on China to workout verifiable measures for protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), technology transfer and more access to American goods to Chinese markets.
Both the countries have imposed additional tariffs on billions of dollars worth of their exports to each other.
Trump last week threatened to “immediately” jack up tariffs on the remaining USD 300 billion Chinese exports to US should President Xi fail to show up at the meeting. The US already has 25 per cent duties on more than USD 250 billion of imports from China.
Special teams from both the sides headed by high level officials held 11 rounds of talks to end the tariff war. The talks reportedly broke down after Trump’s insistence of verifiable measures to ensure Chinese action to halt IPR violations as well as technology transfer, which Beijing says impedes its sovereignty.
After his phone talks with Xi, Trump sounded upbeat about the likely progress in his meeting with Xi at Osaka.
“Had a very good telephone conversation with President Xi of China. We will be having an extended meeting next week at the G-20 in Japan. Our respective teams will begin talks prior to our meeting,” Trump said.
For his part, Xi too said, “I am ready to meet with the President (Trump) during the G-20 Osaka Summit to exchange views on fundamental issues concerning the development of China-US relations,” an official statement here said after the telephonic conversation between the two leaders.
Xi stressed that on economic and trade issues, the two sides should solve their problems through dialogue on an equal footing, with the key being to accommodate each other’s reasonable concerns.
“The Chinese side hopes the US side can treat Chinese firms in a fair manner. I agree to have the two countries’ trade teams maintain contact on how to solve the dispute,” he said.
“As the world’s two biggest economies, China and the US should jointly play a leading role in pushing for positive outcomes at the G20 Osaka Summit, so as to inject confidence and vitality into the global market,” Xi said.
Ahead of his meeting with Trump, Xi made a sudden visit to North Korea, the first by a Chinese president in 14 years – amid speculation that the trip was aimed at demonstrating China’s clout over North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un to the US leader.
Trump, who already had two failed summits with Kim, in the past accused Xi of “influencing” the North Korean leader against working out a deal to give up nuclear weapons.
During his just concluded visit to North Korea, Xi told Kim that China was determined to support the country’s new “strategic path”, while Kim said Pyongyang had taken steps towards denuclearisation, but it had not received a “positive response from the relevant party”.
Lim Eul-chul, a North Korea expert at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University in Seoul, said the situation was becoming “very complicated”.
“I read China’s vow to North Korea as Beijing’s determination to align with Pyongyang against Washington,” Lim told Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
Zhao Tong, a fellow at the Carnegie Nuclear Policy Programme at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre for Global Policy, said the emphasis on historical bonds and the rapprochement between China, Russia and North Korea would prompt suspicion from the West.
“China and Russia are becoming closer as they share similar views on governance and international relations. China, Russia and North Korea will also edge closer as their ideology is similar and there will be a backlash from the United States and its allies,” Zhao said.
“Pyongyang will have to manoeuvre between China and the US to survive, and that will inevitably result in a shift in the power dynamic,” Zhao told the Post.
Source: Press Trust of India