At the ASEAN summit in Singapore this week, attendees showed tentative signs of cooperation on a number of issues, including the South China Sea and the China-U.S. relationship.
On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of the summit. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Wang said that China is willing to resolve differences with the U.S. on a principle of equal footing, a sentiment which he said the U.S. secretary responded positively to. According to Wang, Pompeo told him he was "was willing to maintain constructive contact" and "does not want current frictions to continue," although the trade war was not mentioned specifically.
The content of the two leaders' conversation has not yet been reported officially by the U.S. government, but State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement that "Secretary Pompeo underscored the importance of pursuing a constructive U.S.-China relationship that produces meaningful results," CBS reported on Friday.
However, formal negotiations between the two powers over trade have not yet been announced, and do not appear to be imminent. On Friday, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced it would apply tariffs on $60 billion a year worth of imports from the U.S., at rates ranging from 5% to 25%, if the Trump administration goes ahead with plans to place further tariffs on Chinese imports.
Further news out of the ASEAN summit came on Thursday, when it was announced that China and the ASEAN nations had come to an agreement on the draft text for a code of conduct (COC) governing behavior in the South China Sea, after over a decade of talks. This single draft negotiating text will become the basis for future negotiations between China and the ASEAN nations, signalling a positive step on a issue that has long been a sticking point, as China-US Focus contributor Richard Heydarian illustrated in an article last year.
Prepared by China-US Focus editorial teams in Hong Kong and New York, this weekly newsletter offers you snap shots of latest trends and developments emerging from China every week, while adding a dose of historical perspective.