Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan attends a special address during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting, on January 23, 2019 in Davos, eastern Switzerland. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

China and the United States need each other, one of Beijing’s most powerful officials said Wednesday, as the world’s two biggest economies struggle to end a damaging trade war.

“The Chinese and US economies are mutually indispensable, so their relations must be mutually beneficial and win-win,” Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan told delegates assembled at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“This is the reality: neither side can do without the other side,” said Wang, who is playing a leading role in resolving the China-US trade conflict.

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The two sides were expected to meet at the annual conference in the Swiss ski resort, but the White House canceled the US delegation’s trip due to the government shutdown in Washington.

China slowdown

Economic experts assembled in Davos are also worried about an economic slowdown in China, but Wang – a close ally of President Xi Jinping – said the economy was growing at a healthy pace.

“The number is 6.6%. I think this is a pretty significant number. Not low at all,” Wang told the delegates, referring to the growth rate for 2018, the lowest in 28 years.

The IMF on Monday warned that the US-China trade war was fueling global uncertainty and threatening to drag down world economic growth.

Competition for influence

Speaking about the competition between the US and China for global influence, Wang said, “It is imperative to respect national sovereignty and refrain from seeking technological hegemony, interfering in other countries’ domestic affairs and conducting, shielding or protecting technology-enabled activities that undermine other countries national security.

“We need to uphold multilateralism, engage in extensive dialogue and cooperation based on mutual respect and mutual trust. And jointly build a system of rules for technology and [a] new international cooperation framework.”


Shortly after Wang’s speech, Klaus Schwab, the executive chairman of the WEF, asked him to share his thoughts on globalization.

In response, he said: “Now we do face a lot of imbalances … And for those groups of people who feel the imbalance, they are making their responses. I believe it is understandable and inevitable.”

He added, “For those people who question globalization because of the imbalances, once their interests are well protected, this counter-wave against globalization will phase out.”

– with reporting by Agence France-Presse and CNBC

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