Commentary: Xi-Trump meeting an opportunity to bring talks back on track

Source: Xinhua| 2019-06-28 14:45:34|Editor: Yang Yi
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by Xinhua writer Shi Xiaomeng

BEIJING, June 28 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to sit down with his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20) summit in the Japanese city of Osaka, igniting a flicker of hope to bring the China-U.S. trade talks back on track.

The meeting arrives at a time when Washington's trade offensive against China is not only poisoning one of the world's most important bilateral relationships, but also risking throttling the already frail global economic recovery. Its significance is thus too great to miss.

When the two presidents met each other at last year's G20 summit in Argentina's capital city of Buenos Aires, they reached an important consensus to pause the trade confrontation and resume talks. Since then, negotiating teams on both sides have held seven rounds of consultations in search for an early settlement.

However, China's utmost sincerity demonstrated over the months seems to have only prompted some trade hawks in Washington to press for their luck.

Following its failure to coerce Beijing into swallowing a deal with unequal terms, a disappointed and enraged Washington returned to its tactic of tariffs by raising additional levies on 200 billion U.S. dollars' worth of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent, and threatening a new round of tariff hikes on another 300 billion dollars' worth of goods.

Some ultra-conservative U.S. decision-makers, who have for many years seen in China a "threat" to Washington's sole superpower status, have tried to extend the trade campaign into a broader operation to shut China out and contain its rise.

As a result, Washington is cracking down on Chinese high-tech companies including telecom equipment provider Huawei, while many Chinese students seeking to study in the United States are facing more restrictions like months-long visa delay.

Thanks to Washington's relentless efforts, the two countries, which should have celebrated the 40th anniversary of their diplomatic ties this year, are seeing their relations slipping down the path to a possible all-out confrontation.

Despite Washington's "in-your-face" style of maximum pressure strategy, China has been steadfastly consistent in its position. It has always been committed to settling trade frictions via dialogue and consultation and safeguarding its legitimate and sovereign rights at the same time.

Beijing, as it has on various occasions reaffirmed, does not want a trade war, but is not afraid of one, and will fight to the end if necessary.

Last week, Xi had a telephone conversation with Trump at the request of the U.S. leader, saying that he stands ready to meet Trump in Osaka to exchange views on fundamental issues concerning the development of China-U.S. relations.

Xi's words reflect an alarming fact that the two countries are facing a challenge to the fundamentals of their relationship. The upcoming Xi-Trump meeting provides a unique opportunity for the two sides to find new common ground in easing trade tensions and bring the troubled ties back onto the right track.

If the two sides can reach an agreement to pick up the talks, the United States needs to place itself on an equal footing with China, and accommodate China's legitimate concerns on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit in order to seek win-win results in the future negotiations.

Just one day ahead of the Osaka G20 summit, some U.S. politician again threatened to slap punitive levies on imported Chinese goods. Such cheap tactics to bring China down to its knees with pressure will get nowhere.

For more than a year, Washington's spoils in its tariff campaign have so far only seen rising daily costs for ordinary American consumers, growing rejections from U.S. farmers, industry workers and business leaders, roller-coaster rides in U.S. stock markets, as well as China's increasingly stronger determination to defend its rights.

The trade fight between the world's two largest economies has already hit hard the global market and dented investors' confidence worldwide. The latest World Trade Outlook Indicator reading of 96.3 remains at the weakest level since 2010, signaling continued falling trade growth in the first half of 2019, according to the World Trade Organization.

Trade wars produce no winner. In his latest telephone talk with Xi, Trump said he believes the entire world hopes to see the United States and China reach an agreement. To get an agreement, Washington's hardliners need to know that Beijing will neither surrender to their pressure, nor permit Washington to deprive Chinese people of their rights to pursue a better life.

And for the agreement to be sustainable, Washington's China policy should be rational. A rising China is not seeking to grab global hegemony. It will continue to work with nations around the world, including the United States, to boost common development and build a community with a shared future for mankind.

The past 40 years of China-U.S. relationship have proved that when the two countries work together, they both win and the world gains as well. But when they fight each other, all are poised to lose.

China and the United States, as two major economies in the international community, bear special responsibility for the wider world.

Therefore, the two sides, just as what Xi said during his meeting with The Elders delegation this April in Beijing, need to manage their differences, expand cooperation and jointly promote bilateral relations based on coordination, cooperation and stability so as to provide more stable and expectable factors to the world.