Abb Takk News

US, China agrees to launch new free trade zone backed by Beijing

BEIJING: US President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are holding further talks in Beijing, with trade rivalries to the fore.

Their informal talks over dinner on Tuesday after an Asian summit lasted five hours, two hours longer than scheduled.

They are attempting to increase co-operation between the world’s two major economic powers.

But there are unresolved tensions between the two over several issues.

The United States has expressed concern about what it sees as China’s provocative stance in the South China Sea and accuses Beijing of continuing cyber attacks.

China, for its part, is suspicious that America’s “pivot to Asia” is an attempt to counter the country’s rise as an Asian superpower.

Ahead of the talks Ben Rhodes, a US deputy national security adviser, told journalists that the US welcomed China’s desire to play a role in the international community commensurate with its economic standing.

“At the same time, we’re going to be very clear when we believe that China’s actions are actually pushing outside the boundaries of what we believe to be the necessary international norms that govern relations between nations and the ways in which we resolve disputes,” he said.

On Tuesday, Mr Obama – who last year hosted Mr Xi for a two-day meeting in California – said he wanted to take Beijing-Washington ties “to a new level”.

Mr Xi, according to report, said close ties between the two leaders would boost trust and help “steer clear of strategic misjudgements”.

The two leaders will address the media after their talks on Wednesday, after which Mr Obama flies to Myanmar.

The US-China state visit follows the two-day Apec (Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation) summit in Beijing, at which leaders agreed to launch a study into a new free trade zone backed by Beijing.

The Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) is seen by some as a rival to a US trade pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which excludes China.

In its final communique, Apec said the study into the establishment of the FTAAP would last two years.