Standing side by side, top US officials urged their Chinese counterparts on Friday to halt militarization of the disputed South China Sea, drawing a rebuke from the Chinese for sending US warships close to islands claimed by Beijing.
During a round of high-level talks in Washington, the two sides aired in sometimes blunt terms many of their main differences, including a bitter trade dispute, freedom of navigation in Asia-Pacific waters, self-ruled Taiwan, and China’s crackdown on its Muslim minority in Xinjiang.
Two visiting senior Chinese officials also seized the opportunity to warn publicly that a trade war between the world’s two largest economies would end up hurting both sides and to call for keeping channels of communication open to resolve an issue that has unsettled global financial markets.
Despite the airing of grievances, the talks appeared aimed at controlling the damage to relations that has worsened in recent months and at paving the way for an encounter between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina at the end of November.
“The United States is not pursuing a Cold War or containment policy with respect to China,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a joint news conference.
Even as the United States and China confront difficult challenges, “cooperation remains essential on many issues,” he said, citing efforts to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.
The meeting paired Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis with Chinese Politburo member Yang Jiechi and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe. The annual US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue was originally set for Beijing last month but had been called off amid rising tensions.
Pompeo took aim at China over its continued building of military installations on artificial islands and reefs in the South China Sea, where China insists it has sovereignty despite competing claims from some smaller neighbors.
“We have continued concerns about China’s activities and militarization in the South China Sea,” Pompeo said following the talks. “We pressed China to live up to its past commitments in this area.”
Yang said China was committed to “non-confrontation” but that Beijing had the right to build “necessary defense facilities” on what it considers its own territory and urged Washington to stop sending warships and military planes close to the islands that Beijing claims.
Mattis made clear that this demand go unheeded by Washington, which insists it is acting under international law to preserve access for it and others to the South China Sea.
In a statement on Saturday, China’s Foreign Ministry described the talks as “frank, constructive and very fruitful.”
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر