US, China can expect frank talks on sea clashes: ambassador

10 November, 2018, 17:55 | Author: Myra Gill
  • US Defence Secretary James Mattis shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe during a meeting on the sidelines of the Asean security summit in Singapore on Oct 18

China wants to resolve problems with the United States through talks but it must respect China's choice of development path and interests, President Xi Jinping said on Thursday ahead of a meeting with the U.S. leader in Argentina.

Although the rescheduling of the U.S. -China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue in Washington was "productive", he highlighted China's repression of some religious groups. China expects the United States "to respect China's security interests in the Asia-Pacific, China's sovereignty and development interests", Yang said Friday.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis and Chinese Minister of National Defence Wei Fenghe were also present at the press conference.

Xi said China and the USA need to make "accurate judgments" of each other's strategic intentions. While the Trump administration has generally been soft-spoken on human rights, at least with allies, Pompeo denounced China's "repression" of religious and minority groups including the Uighur community, citing a United Nations report that up to one million members of the mostly Muslim ethnic group have been rounded up in detention camps.

China says the "vocational education centers" are aimed at ensuring security.

"Foreign countries have no right to interfere", he said. "The US is not trying to contain China but we want fairness and reciprocity".

"I reiterated the USA policy has not changed, and that we are concerned about China's increasing efforts to coerce others constraining Taiwan's global space", Pompeo said.

Again Yang and Wei pushed back, speaking of Taiwan as an "integral" and "inseparable" part of China.

Pompeo said in a joint press conference following the two-day dialogue that, despite differences on a wide range of issues, there remain areas for cooperation, including on North Korea. Xi is to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump later this month at the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires.

Calling Kissinger an old friend of the Chinese people, Xi applauded the US diplomat's contribution to bilateral relations.

"Cooperation is the only option for us", Wei said.

FILE - A demonstrator holds flags of Taiwan and the United States in support of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen during a stopover after her visit to Latin America in Burlingame, Calif., Jan. 14, 2017.

While Pompeo spoke little about trade in his public comments, Yang said he hoped the two sides would find a mutually acceptable solution on the issue "before long".

Wang said China stood ready to work with the United States to remove disruptions, build trust and prepare fully for the meeting.

Top on that list is the South China Sea, where warships from the two countries recently had a near-collision, and Taiwan, where the United States has been signaling a policy shift with more frequent arms sales and the sailing of ships near the island.

Fault lines between the U.S. and China were on clear display Friday as senior officials challenged each other over the South China Sea, Taiwan, religious freedom and trade just weeks before President Donald Trump is set to meet with President Xi Jinping.

Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang told reporters at a regular briefing on Thursday that Vietnam had legal basis and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over the Spratlys and Paracels, and asked China to stop the action.

Pompeo said the United States had also expressed concern about China's approach to Taiwan, particularly its efforts to limit global engagement with the breakaway province.

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



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