Barring a war on Korean Peninsula, US-China ties predicted to remain stable

The relationship between the United States and China would remain stable if there is no war on the Korean Peninsula, said a former US official, as tensions over the North Korean nuclear issue appear to have eased following Pyongyang's acceptance of Seoul's offer to resume talks.

In a recent interview with Sino-US.com, Paul Speltz, who served as US Executive Director of the Asian Development Bank, hailed the open talks US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping held during Trump's visit to Beijing in November last year, where the two countries' economic and trade problems were discussed. Speltz also revealed that the two presidents also privately exchanged views about how to address the thorny North Korean nuclear issue.

Speltz, who also worked as Economic and Financial Emissary to China, believed that no matter the talks were private or open, it would be helpful in promoting the healthy development of the United States-China relationship, saying that American enterprises would play a more positive role in building the world's most important bilateral relationship.

Last week, North Korea and South Korea announced plans to resume official talks on January 9 after Pyongyang sent an official message accepting Seoul's offer for talks. South Korea's peace overture was seen as a response to the comments by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a New Year's Day speech, in which Kim suggested immediate talks with Seoul over sending a delegation to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

The move helps reduce the possibility of having a war on the Korean Peninsula as North Korea's ceaseless efforts to develop missiles and nuclear weapons have consistently touched the nerves of the international community.

If the North Korean nuclear tensions do not trigger a war, the relationship between the United States and China would go forward with little ups and downs, said Speltz, placing the settlement of the issue as top priority of both the United States and China.

The former American official argued that the sign of resumption of talks between North Korea and South Korea does not mean the six-party talks would resume in the short term, saying that China plays a key role in taking measures to curb North Korea's nuclear ambition such as stopping oil exports to the isolated country, which the former American official described as a "feasible method".

Speltz continued to say that China should take more responsibilities than the United States to deal with the North Korean nuclear issue.

In terms of the economic and trade relationship between the two countries, Speltz said that it is of more importance to the bilateral relations than before because a great number of American firms are doing business in China, which is a major destination for American-made products. Speltz added that these American firms could enforce China to make changes in areas of cyber security and intellectual rights protection by wielding their influence in the country.

When talking about the Belt and Road Initiative, Speltz described the Beijing-led initiative as an "unclear concept", which needs much time and money to become reality. But he said that the Asian Infrastructural Investment Bank, which is also backed by Beijing, is a real multilateral bank with clear functions and participants. The United States should treat the Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank differently and adopt different approaches toward them in order to protect its interests, according to the former American official.


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