China’s President Xi pushes free trade and multilateralism at G20

World Today

China’s President Xi Jinping waits for the start of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018.(AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Development, infrastructure and investment were among the big issues being addressed on the first day of the G20 Summit. Chinese President Xi Jinping defended multilateralism and free trade. CGTN’s Stephen Gibbs reports.

Buenos Aires this morning. Almost a ghost town, owing to the massive security clampdown.

But at a conference center just a few miles away, the summit had begun, with back-to-back meetings between leaders of all the world’s major powers. For China one focus of this G20 is to push the argument that multilateralism – embodied by summits like this – is positive – as is global trade with fewer barriers.

It was significant, therefore, that one of the first meetings President Xi attended was with the BRICS group of countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the potentially growing economies of the next century

Climate change has been another focus. China, France and the United Nations held a trilateral meeting in which they stressed that the issue is just the sort of long-term problem – for the whole world – that the G20 can help tackle together.

“We’re working jointly with other countries to build a better world that is ecologically sound,” said Chinese Wang Yi, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister. “It won’t be easy to reach that goal. Generations to come will need to do work, too.”

But at this summit, there is one skeptic about many of these issues. President Donald Trump has his doubts that climate change is man-made – or that multilateral organizations serve a purpose.

Nevertheless, for him, as well, this summit has produced a good opportunity for several bilateral meetings. Crucially, one on Saturday with the Chinese President. On Friday he gave some hints that a resolution to the two countries’ trade war may be close.

“We will be meeting with China, yes, we will be meeting tomorrow. And, we’ve already spoken, and we’re working very hard. If we could make a deal, that would be good. I think they want to, and I think we’d like to and we’ll see.”

Before that meeting, the challenge will be for all the delegates to agree to a joint communique setting out their shared objectives. Work on that will likely continue throughout the night.

And after that, the crucial dinner between the Chinese and U.S. Presidents, which will take place after the main summit has formally ended.

Sourabh Gupta discusses the highlights from day one of the G20

For the key takeaways from day one of the G20, CGTN’s Elaine Reyes spoke with Sourabh Gupta, a senior fellow at the Institute for China-America Studies.