Foreign minister: China and United States cannot afford conflict

World Today

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (R) speaks during a press conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L) at Parliament House in Canberra on February 7, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MARK GRAHAM

There would be no winner from a conflict between China and the United States, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned on Tuesday, seeking to dampen tension between the two nations that flared after the election of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Relations between China and United States have soured after Trump upset Beijing in December by taking a telephone call from Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen and threatened to impose tariffs on Chinese imports.

China is committed to peace, Wang said, after meeting Australia’s Foreign Minister Julia Bishop.

“There cannot be conflict between China and the United States, as both sides will lose and both sides cannot afford that,” he told reporters in the Australian capital of Canberra.

Chinese FM calls for expediting RCEP talks

Wang also called for expediting the talks of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership for the construction of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).

China is open to any regional trade arrangement conducive to regional economic integration and global free trade system, Wang said at a press conference after the fourth round of China-Australia dialogue.

Australian Foreign Minister Bishop said Australia is committed to ensuring the free trade agreement with China continues to grow, and said the countries plan to cooperate more on tourism, regional infrastructure, innovation, and energy.

“Australia reassures China that we are a reliable partner and that we will continue to place a strong trade and economic relationship as one of our highest priorities,” Bishop said.

Wang stressed that practice on the ground has showed that any regional cooperation should take into consideration the needs for economic development over political factors.

Moreover, as China called on nations to be open to offshore investment, Wang said. Beijing will link its “One Belt, One Road” policy with Australia’s plan to develop its remote northern region, he added.

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the One Belt, One Road project 2013 which envisages investments by China in infrastructure projects, including railways, and power grids in central, west and southern Asia, as well as Africa and Europe.

Australia has ambitious plans to develop its Northern Territory, a frontier region with little infrastructure, but efforts have largely stalled for lack of investment, Reuters reported.

Story by Reuters, Xinhua, and the Associated Press.