Beijing has suggested Macau as a possible venue for signing the first-phase US-China trade deal after the Chilean government on Wednesday abruptly scrapped this month’s APEC summit because of unrest in the country, Reuters reported on Thursday.
President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump had been widely expected to sign the agreement on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Santiago de Chile on November 16-17.
Reuters on Thursday quoted an unnamed “China trade source familiar with the issue” as saying that Beijing had suggested Macau as an alternative venue for inking the accord.
According to Reuters, the White House, however, intends to offer some US locations as alternatives for the APEC summit, “according to one source familiar with US thinking.” Alaska and Hawaii could be potential options that would be acceptable to Beijing, Reuters quoted a second source familiar with the issue as saying.
A statement by the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) on the ongoing China-US trade talks did not address the question of whether Trump and Xi would still meet this or next month to sign the deal.
Fox News breaking the news
Fox News was the first media outlet to break the news about Macau as a possible venue for signing the deal after Chile’s cancellation of the APEC summit. A tweet by Fox News journalist
Edward Lawrence on Wednesday night (Macau time) said that Beijing “has offered that Trump travel to Macau to sign the Phase One deal, rather than the planned meet-up in Santiago, Chile.”
The Macau Post Daily on Thursday published the Fox News reporter’s tweet as a part of a front-page article headlined “US wants China trade deal in ‘same time frame’ despite axed APEC summit”.
Unequal China-US treaty inked in Macau in 1844
If Xi and Trump go ahead with signing the first-phase trade deal in Macau, it would be the second agreement signed by the two countries in Macau. On July 3, 1844, representatives of the two countries signed the 1st Sino-American Treaty on a stone table in the gardens of Kun lam Temple. Most controversially, it granted the US extraterritorial rights that remained in effect until 1943. Both the Nationalist and Communist governments regarded the treaty as unequal. According to Wikipedia, the term “unequal treaty” has been associated with the concept of China’s “century of humiliation”, especially the string of territorial concessions to foreign powers and loss of tariff autonomy through the treaty ports.
Local observers pointed out to The Macau Post Daily on Thursday that the signing of the Xi-Trump deal here would be a huge promotion of Macau’s traditional role as an international hub for exchanges between China and the West, apart from the fact that the China of today is powerful enough to only sign agreements that are “equal,” i.e. mutually beneficial.