Chinese President Xi Jinping told US President-elect Donald Trump in a telephone call that cooperation was the only choice for relations between the two countries, Chinese state media said, in their first interaction since the U.S. election.
Trump had lambasted China throughout the US election campaign, drumming up headlines with his pledges to slap 45 per cent tariffs on imported Chinese goods and to label the country a currency manipulator on his first day in office.
His election has injected uncertainty into bilateral relations at a time when Beijing hopes for stability as it faces daunting reform challenges at home, a slowing economy, and a leadership reshuffle of its own that will put a new party elite around Xi in late 2017.
“The facts prove that cooperation is the only correct choice for China and the United States,” China Central Television (CCTV) cited Xi as telling Trump in the call that occurred on Monday in China.
“The two sides must strengthen coordination, promote the two countries’ economic development and global economic growth, expand all areas of exchange and cooperation, ensure the two countries’ people obtain more tangible benefits, and push for better development going forward in China-US relations,” Xi said.
CCTV said Trump told Xi he was willing to work with China to strengthen cooperation and that he believed US-China relations can “definitely achieve greater development”.
The two agreed to maintain close communication and meet soon, CCTV said. Xi had congratulated Trump in a message delivered shortly after his surprise election victory last week.
There is intense speculation over the impact of Trump’s win on issues facing the world’s two largest economies, from climate change and global trade to the security balance in the Asia-Pacific.
And his criticism of US allies, including Japan, for free-riding on US security guarantees, has deepened anxiety among Washington’s allies about its commitment to post-war security arrangements in the face of a rising China and volatile North Korea.
Trump appears to be seeking quick ways to withdraw the United States from a global accord to combat climate change, billed by China and US President Barack Obama as a key area for cooperation.
China has also signalled it will promote plans for regional trade integration, vowing to seek support for a Beijing-backed Asia-Pacific free trade area at a summit in Peru later this month, after Trump’s win dashed hopes for the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership.