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Asia-Pacific economies look forward to progress in trade talks between the US and China

Progress in trade negotiations between the United States and China will be beneficial not only to both countries but also to Asia-Pacific nations which are bound close in global supply chains, according to speakers at an international forum in Singapore.

And major powers are looked upon for increased understanding and positive competition and win-win cooperation in providing global public services instead of zero-sum rivalry, Zhang Xiaoqiang, executive vice-chairman and CEO of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said at a news briefing.

Cautious optimisms are expressed over upcoming progress in bilateral trade talks for the first phase, he said, and basic principles for next phases could be set though it is not a matter of China unilaterally.

What Asian economies other than China want least are conflicts between major powers such as the US and China, he said after heated discussions in nearly two days. Regional blocs and varied nations are willing to provide channels for mutual dialogue and exchanges for all, especially for powers in disputes.

Dozens of experts from both countries and Singapore, India, Thailand, Indonesia and several other nations and regions exchanged views on prospects of China-US relations at the conference jointly held by CCIEE, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and the Brookings Institute on Oct 30-31.

Wei Jianguo, vice chairman and deputy executive officer of CCIEE, noted any progress in the first phase comes hard, but what is important is that both the US and China have learned of core concerns and red-lines of each other and be better prepared for further negotiations.

"The haze is gone, but the sky is not fully clear, so more efforts are needed," Wei told journalists.

China is not to replace the US in supremacy and China is not to change the international mechanisms in global governance, he said. China, like many other developing nations, just seeks to reform and improve the global economic institutions such as the World Trade Organization.

Tarun Das, chairman of New Delhi-based think tank Institute of Economic Growth, said the rest of the world are eager to see China and the US join hands in tackling global challenges including climate change.

"What are the choices before the US and China, competition, conflict, or collaboration?" he asked in his remarks. "We need to avoid conflict for everyone's sake. Can we see a picture of competition plus collaboration?" adding that we have a shared future.

There is this increasing coming-together of technology in the US, China and the rest of the world, Charles Freeman, senior vice president of US Chamber of Commerce, told China Daily. But the challenges are varied governments may have own concerns in security issues.

Wei Jianguo, vice chairman and deputy executive officer of CCIEE, talks to the media on Oct 31. 

Wei said the concerns over US-China investments should include the US regulators often citing strange grounds to pour cold water on Chinese investors' plans. A processed meat producer from China is even barred from buying plots of land for pig-raising purposes in the US on the ground of "national security concerns".

On the other hand, US investors are occupying the most booths in China's import fair in November and small and medium-sized US businesses are eyeing opportunities in the world's largest market.

Other guests in closed-door panels also offered constructive suggestions for nations to come together for a world that is more balanced, more inclusive, and fairer, said Zhang, who has attended all panels.

Many have realized that China may have different approaches in reforming current economic and diplomatic mechanisms but has been willing to discuss with others, he added.

Das also stressed in an interview with China Daily that China and the US need to work together, noting that breaking the global supply chain "is bad for everybody". Given the global impact of the US-China trade conflict, more dialogues should be held to include other stakeholders, he said.

Das, who once served as director general of the Confederation of Indian Industry, said the China-US trade conflict has affected everyone connected in the global supply chain, especially Asian countries as they're deeply connected with both the US and Chinese economies.

"We are all experiencing pain," he said, noting that "the pain is not bilateral only. It has become multilateral".

"Innovation depends on openness," Das said, adding that all the technological development has relied on the knowledge sharing among nations.

He reiterated the concerns earlier expressed a day earlier by Zeng Peiyan, chairman of the CCIEE and former Chinese vice premier, on how some sectors' calls for decoupling will damage the interests not only of China and the US, but the rest of the world.

He said US government's decision to blacklist Chinese telecommunications company Huawei is one example on how the trade conflict is affecting the technological sector.

The US Department of Commerce has put Huawei and other Chinese technology companies to its "entity list", which restricts their access to US technology.

Bert Hofman, director of the East Asian Institute in LKYSPP, said the US might argue that putting up an 'entity list' doesn't contravene the rules set by the World Trade Organization (WTO) as there's a security issue involved. But he said this point debatable and should involve not only the two countries but other affected stakeholders as well.

Speaking with China Daily, Hofman said the issue of Huawei alone "affects many countries and even US companies because Huawei has a big supply chain".

 

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