Chinese and American people will save relations despite trade war and South China Sea threats, says ambassador to US Cui Tiankai


‘Enough of trade war threats, strategic rivalry, sabre rattling in the South China Sea,’ says Cui Tiankai in speech in Washington
Rivalry and confrontation are prevailing but ordinary people will turn the tide, he suggests.

China’s ambassador to the US said on Tuesday that the “goodwill” and “wisdom” of the Chinese and American people would carry the countries through a tense period in their relations, and that “we have heard enough” of trade war threats and territorial sabre rattling.

Speaking weeks before a highly anticipated face-to-face meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Argentina, Cui Tiankai said the US-China relationship, which will mark its 40th anniversary next January, “has made great strides, while also it has had its share of setbacks”.

“It looks as if rivalry and confrontation became the prevailing aspect of our path ahead,” said Cui, speaking during a trade war in which both countries have slapped punitive tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of imports.

Mixed messages have become a recurring feature of the US approach to China during the trade war, including from the American leader, Donald Trump. Photo: AFP
“When our relations are at a low ebb, it is always our people who will firmly support the bonds and friendship, and turn the tide of the China-US relations,” he said at an event held in Washington by the China General Chamber of Commerce-USA, a non-profit organisation that represents Chinese businesses in the US.

In a speech that made no direct mention of Trump or his government, Cui expressed confidence in the capacity of people-to-people friendship, rather than political wrestling, to carry the US-China relationship forward.

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“The ordinary and great people of China and the United States are there doing their part,” he said, “showing their goodwill, wisdom and magnanimity, and paving the path forward for our relations.”

According to research by the Pew Research Centre, which monitors changing attitudes around the world, almost half of Americans held unfavourable views of China in 2017. Figures from the previous year, the most recent data available, showed 44 per cent of Chinese respondents held unfavourable views of the US.