Written by Staff Writer
President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping will likely agree to launch negotiations on trade at a summit in Argentina next month, a senior US official said Sunday, kicking off a potential thaw in trans-Pacific tensions.
“We’re looking forward to seeing President Xi at the G20,” the official told reporters on the flight to the annual summit of world leaders. “That will create space in the relationship between the United States and China to begin to move in a new direction.”
The official reiterated previous comments from Trump’s administration that Trump will remain tough on trade at the talks. He is scheduled to host Xi at the G20 next month in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“We’re prepared to move forward with a range of proposals to modernize the relationship and increase trade and economic opportunities for both of our countries,” the official said.
Trump and Xi are slated to hold a face-to-face meeting early next month in Argentina.
Growing differences over trade issues between China and the United States have highlighted the main economic challenges facing the two countries, and added to tensions as China and the United States have stoked concerns with each other over what each side considers a serious security challenge.
China’s military builds on gains
On Saturday, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen met with US Senators in Taipei, where she urged Beijing to open up its economy and agreed to back the island’s move towards independence.
Taiwanese Foreign Minister David Lee warned in March that Beijing’s military buildup is hurting the island’s peaceful relationship with its giant neighbor, adding that he expects the military to ramp up its build-up on Taipei this year.
Xi has increasingly called for a comprehensive “peaceful unification” with Taiwan, or unification through the use of force. Beijing considers Taiwan an illegitimate state and has never renounced the use of force to bring the self-ruled island back under its control.
Taiwan has stressed its autonomy from Beijing, where the island’s formal name is the People’s Republic of China, but its public has steadfastly rejected calls to rule by Beijing.
The United States and Taiwan have been allies for decades, but when President George W. Bush visited the island in 2003, he insisted that it continue to be treated as a loyal ally rather than a friend.
But since Trump took office, US officials have maintained that the two nations remain close allies.
Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who last visited the island in March, said Beijing’s current actions showed “utterly clear” intent to change the status quo.
“There has been only an outpouring of fury at Singapore’s continued maintenance of democratic principles in Hong Kong,” Balakrishnan said, speaking at a recent forum.
“What we want to see is Taiwan continue to be a land of democracies, a land of free trade, a land of open borders,” he said.
Military exercise marks ‘Chinese combat readiness patrol’
Meanwhile, Taiwan said Saturday that China was conducting an offensive military exercise close to the island as part of its campaign to assert Chinese sovereignty over the disputed Spratly Islands.
Five ships equipped with battle tanks, electronic warfare vehicles and helicopters carried out a “combat readiness patrol” in the area, according to the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense.
The six vessels headed out in the Taiwan Strait and around the Tuamotu Islands on Saturday, the Ministry said in a statement.
The area is home to disputed maritime territories in the South China Sea, where China is locked in territorial disputes with several other states.
The South China Sea, a busy waterway through which a third of the world’s seaborne trade passes, has become the latest flashpoint in global relations. China’s claims are fiercely contested by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.