China looks forward to further strengthening ties with the United States after President-elect Donald Trump takes office on Jan 20, according to Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador in Washington.
“What we want to see in China is a smooth transition and continued growth of our bilateral relations, so that we can bring even greater benefits to our two peoples,” he said in an interview on Nov 11 with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message to Trump after his election victory on Nov 9. Vice-President Li Yuanchao also congratulated Mike Pence, the US vice-president-elect.
Asked about Trump’s campaign rhetoric, such as a pledge to impose a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports and branding China a currency manipulator, Cui said bilateral relations are based on growing common interests and cited cooperation in a range of areas, including the global economy, trade and investment, energy and counterterrorism.
Both countries have greatly benefited from increased cooperation in recent decades, the diplomat said, adding that common interests “will determine the future direction of this relationship”.
Trump talked about the tariff early in his campaign but has not mentioned this in recent months. It is believed such a tariff would not only violate World Trade Organization rules, but would also be opposed by the US business community and Congress because of fears of a trade war.
“We never want to have any war ... with other countries. Besides, China and the US are WTO members, so we should all play by WTO rules,” Cui said.
Trump made several controversial promises during his campaign, but his post-victory speech was conciliatory. He pledged to seek common ground with other countries, not hostility.
It is unclear how the president-elect will deal with his pledge to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, which has been signed by more than 190 countries and came into effect on Nov 4. Trump has previously called climate change a “Chinese hoax”.
“Climate change is a global challenge,” Cui said. “All countries have to work together to respond to it. Whatever other countries might do ... China will continue to make efforts to respond to climate change and try to aim at green and sustainable development.”
Asked whether Trump will continue the US’ interventionist policy in the Asia-Pacific region, which has disrupted US-China relations, the ambassador added, “China is ready and willing to work with all partners for the continued prosperity and stability in the region. We certainly see the US as one of the major partners in this regard.”
The ambassador said China had watched the US election closely, but had made no comment and taken no side.
“We just look forward to continuing the cooperation with the American government and, of course, continued friendship with the American people,” he said.