European Council President Donald Tusk has urged the United States, Russia, and China to avoid starting trade wars that could threaten the global order and endanger world peace.
Early on July 16, Tusk said there was "still time to prevent conflict and chaos" and that all parties had a "common duty" to work together and avoid confrontation.
Tusk directed remarks toward U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's Vladimir Putin, noting that they would be meeting later in the day in Helsinki.
"We are all aware of the fact that the architecture of the world is changing before our very eyes, and it is our common responsibility to make it a change for the better," he said.
"It is the common duty of Europe and China, but also America and Russia, not to destroy [the global trade order] but to improve it, not to start trade wars which have turned into hot conflicts so often in our history," added Tusk, who was in Beijing for a summit between EU and Chinese leaders.
He acknowledged that the world needs trade reform but that it must avoid confrontation.
"This is why I am calling on our Chinese hosts, but also on presidents Trump and Putin, to jointly start this process from a thorough reform of the [World Trade Organization]."
"Today we are facing a dilemma, whether to play a tough game, such as tariff wars and conflict in places like Ukraine and Syria, or to look for common solutions based on fair rules," Tusk said.
Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker were in Beijing for the 20th annual summit with Chinese leaders, hosted by Premier Li Keqiang.
EU and Chinese leaders are looking to reach an agreement to begin the process of easing access to each other’s markets.
Officials have expressed hopes of producing a modest communique that will affirm both sides' commitments to the multilateral trading system.
They were unable to reach agreement on such a statement after the past two summits.
Experts say China will likely be looking to establish some kind of anti-U.S. alliance that Beijing could use as a counterbalance to the United States amid its tariff dispute with the U.S. president.
Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on more than $500 billion worth of Chinese goods if Beijing does not change what the U.S. president has called its unfair trade policies.
China has said it will retaliate if Washington goes through on its tariff threats. Russia has also vowed to retaliate against any U.S. sanctions that affect its businesses or industry.
The meetings will also cover China’s Belt and Road Initiative and geopolitical concerns in Burma, Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea.