Media reports claiming that China had suggested to the US that President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump meet in Macau to sign an agreement on the so-called “phase-one” trade agreement by the two countries are “just a groundless assumption,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing for correspondents in Beijing on Friday, according to the ministry’s official translation.
Geng’s remarks came after Fox News and Reuters reported on Wednesday and Thursday respectively that Beijing had suggested Macau as the venue for inking the “phase-one” trade deal.
While the Fox News report – a tweet by one of its journalists – was unsourced, Reuters 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. The Macau Post Daily quoted both media outlets in its reports on the matter.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry on Monday once again referred to the matter. A statement on Geng’s remarks at Monday’s press briefing, quoted an unnamed journalist as asking the following question:
“Over the weekend, [US] President Trump suggested that he might invite the Chinese leader to Iowa to sign a trade agreement. Does China have any plans for that? If not, can you tell us about what discussions you are currently having with the United States about where the two presidents might meet if it is them who sign the trade agreement? I do understand there is still some uncertainty about what exactly will happen.”
Geng replies: “Your question is even longer than my answer. Regarding the meeting you talked about, I’d like to note that President Xi and President Trump have stayed in contact through various means.”
Observers contacted by The Macau Post Daily on Thursday pointed out that the first China-US treaty was signed in Macau in 1844. However, they underlined that the so-called Treaty of Mong Ha was one of the infamous “unequal treaties” forced on China in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The observers, who asked not to be named, also said that the China of today was powerful enough to only sign “equal” agreements, i.e. accords that are mutually beneficial.