US and China to Hold Security Talks Amid Trade Tensions

Lester Mason
November 10, 2018

In a further sign of improving ties, Chinese Politburo Member Yang Jiechi and Defence Minister Wei Fenghe are set to hold a security and diplomatic dialogue with U.S. officials in Washington on Friday.

China and the United States have put tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other's goods and U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to set tariffs on the remainder of China's US$500 billion-plus exports to the United States if the trade dispute can not be resolved.

"And we made clear that the United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever worldwide law allows", Mattis said.

"The Chinese side made it clear to the United States that it should stop sending its vessels and military aircraft close to Chinese islands and reefs and stop actions that undermine China's sovereignty and security interests", he said.

The talks come ahead of Donald Trump's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping as part of the G20 summit in Argentina at the end of November. "The US is not pursuing a cold war or containment policy with China", Pompeo said.

"Rather, we want to ensure that China act responsibly and fairly in support of security and prosperity in each of our two countries", Pompeo said.

A planned trip to Beijing by Mr Mattis last month was halted as military tensions between the U.S. and China escalated.

Speaking earlier, the Chinese government's top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, said Xi and Trump reached an important consensus on the healthy and stable development of bilateral ties in a telephone call last week.Their meeting at the G20 summit would be of "great significance" in resolving bilateral problems, Wang said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Chinese politburo member Yang Jiechi and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe will take part in the talks.

"We want this to be a constructive, results-oriented relationship with China", Branstad said. "Confrontation and conflict between the two militaries will spell disaster for us all".

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the talks were "candid" but that the two militaries looked to improve communication and avoid "miscalculation" at sea.

Mattis added his own caution, saying that "competition does not mean hostility, nor does it lead to conflict".

Mattis did meet Wei in Singapore on 18 October and told him that the world's two largest economies needed to deepen high-level ties to reduce the risk of conflict. "And let's not forget how our two sides have successfully navigated through previous rough patches in our economic and trade relations", he said. Washington has protested to Beijing about recent behavior by its warships that the U.S. Navy considered unsafe.

"China is in damage control mode", said Yun Sun, a China expert at the Stimson Center think tank, noting Beijing's uncertainty about what exactly Trump wants out of trade deal but its hopes that with USA mid-term elections out of the way the mercurial American president may be more inclined to reach a compromise.

Despite twists and turns, Sino-U.S. relations have generally maintained steady progress over the past four decades, Xi said.

Pompeo also reiterated USA criticism of China's "repression of religious groups", citing treatment of Buddhists in Tibet and minority Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region that has drawn condemnation from human rights groups. The U.S. also seeks action from China on the export of a synthetic form of opioids called fentanyl that is a scourge of drug addiction in America.

Yang defended China's policies in Xinjiang as measures against "ethnic separatist activities and violent terrorist crimes" but said it was a Chinese internal affair and foreign governments should not interfere.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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