Barack Obama, Xi Jinping hold final meet; US-China ties at 'hinge moment'

For much of Obama's presidency, China and the United States have slowly improved cooperation and tried to limit the fallout from disputes, all while vying for influence in the Asia-Pacific.

AFP November 20, 2016 12:03:06 IST
Barack Obama, Xi Jinping hold final meet; US-China ties at 'hinge moment'

Lima: Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping have met for the final time, with the Chinese leader warning the period after Donald Trump's election is a "hinge moment" in relations between the two powers.

Without referring to Trump directly, Xi spoke of his hope for a "smooth transition" in a relationship that Obama described as "the most consequential in the world."

The two men were meeting in Lima on Saturday, Peru on the margins of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

Barack Obama Xi Jinping hold final meet USChina ties at hinge moment

US President Barack Obama, right, and China's President Xi Jinping, left, with members of their delegations during an APEC meet. AP

During a vitriol-filled election campaign Trump frequently took a combative stance against China, blaming Beijing for "inventing" climate change and rigging the rules of trade.

The White House, surprised by Trump's lack of details on the issues, has urged world leaders to give Trump time to get his feet under the desk.

For much of Obama's presidency, China and the United States have slowly improved cooperation and tried to limit the fallout from disputes, all while vying for influence in the Asia-Pacific.

China has been quick to seize on the failure of a US-backed Pacific trade deal to push its own version of the pact - excluding Washington at the APEC meeting.

Xi — who the White House sees as perhaps the most powerful Chinese leader since Deng Xiaoping or even Mao Zedong — said he wanted to see cooperation continue.

"I hope the two sides will work together to focus on cooperation, manage our differences, and make sure there is a smooth transition in the relationship and that it will continue to grow going forward."

The two men have met nine times since Obama took office in early 2009.

Obama said he wanted to "take this opportunity to note our work together to build a more durable and productive set of bilateral ties."

"I continue to believe that a constructive US-China relationship benefits our two peoples and benefits the entire globe," he said at the start of the meeting.

"We've demonstrated what's possible when our two countries work together," he said, citing an agreement to tackle climate change.

Obama also acknowledged that his eight years guiding US-China relations have seen difficulties.

That period has seen tensions in particular over China's seizure of territory it claims in the South China Sea, as well as over the treatment of US firms in China.

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