World cannot shut China out, vice president says, in jab at U.S.

July 9, 2019 - 6:00 PM
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Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan speaks during a meeting with Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail at the Zhongnanhai Leadership Compound in Beijing
Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan speaks during a meeting with Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail at the Zhongnanhai Leadership Compound in Beijing, China, July 9, 2019. (Mark Schiefelbein/Pool via Reuters)

BEIJING — China and the rest of the world must co-exist, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan said on Monday, in an indirect jab at the United States, with which Beijing is trying to resolve a bitter trade war.

Top representatives of the world’s two biggest economies are trying to resume talks this week to try and resolve their year-long trade dispute, which has seen the two countries place increasingly harsh tariffs on each other’s imports.

The Trump administration has accused China of engaging in unfair trade practices that discriminate against U.S. firms, forced technology transfers and intellectual property rights theft. Beijing has denied all the charges.

China‘s development can’t shut out the rest of the world. The world’s development can’t shut out China,” Wang told the World Peace Forum at Beijing’s elite Tsinghua University.

He also warned against “protectionism in the name of national security”, but without mentioning the United States, and urged major powers to make greater contributions to world peace.

China has also been angered by U.S. sanctions against tech giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd over national security concerns, and U.S. visa curbs on its students and academics.

In his speech, Wang, who is extremely close to Chinese President Xi Jinping and rarely speaks in public, reiterated China‘s commitment to opening up.

“Large countries must assume their responsibilities and set an example, make more contributions to global peace and stability, and broaden the path of joint development,” he added.

“Development is the key to resolving all issues,” Wang, who became vice president last year, after having led Xi’s fight to root out corruption, told an audience that included Western diplomats based in Beijing and former European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.

“NOT A RATIONAL ACTION”

The United States should not blame China for the problems it is facing, Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng told the forum later.

“Viewing China as the enemy is not a rational action,” the foreign ministry quoted him as saying, adding that China would not put up “high walls” or “decouple itself from any country”.

China has been nervous that the United States is seeking to sever, or at least severely curb, economic links, in what has been called a “decoupling”.

Tariff, trade, finance and science and technology wars are “turning back the clock on history,” Le said. “The consequences will be extremely dangerous.”

The two sides have communicated by telephone since last month’s summit of leaders of Group of 20 major nations in Japan, at which U.S. President Donald Trump and Xi agreed to relaunch stalled talks.

Talks broke down in May, after U.S. officials accused China of pulling back from commitments previously made in the text of an agreement negotiators said was nearly finished.

The countries have also been at loggerheads over issues ranging from human rights to the disputed South China Sea and U.S. support of self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own.

No matter how the international situation or China developed, Vice President Wang said, the country would follow the path of peace, and not seek spheres of influence or expansion.

“If there is no peaceful, stable international environment, there will be no development to talk of.”—Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry and Clarence Fernandez