US, China air grievances at marriage counseling session

US, China air grievances at marriage counseling session

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 USA warships close to islands claimed by Beijing in the strategic waterway.

Yang outranks the Chinese government's top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi.

Even as the United States and China confront hard challenges, "cooperation remains essential on many issues", he said, citing efforts to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

While the United States' representatives expressed their concern over what they referred to as growing militarization in the South China Sea and insisted that Beijing withdraw its missiles from the disputed Spratly Islands ("Nansha" in Chinese), Yang pointed out that China had "indisputable sovereignty" over the archipelago and its adjacent waters.

Mattis responded that the United States would "fly, sail and operate wherever global law allows".

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 U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina at the end of November.

China said last month the two sides had initially agreed "in principle" to hold the second round of diplomatic security talks in October but they were postponed at Washington's request amid rising tensions over trade, Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Politburo member Yang bluntly told the United States to stop sending ships and aircraft near China-claimed territory in the South China Sea.

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Yang, joined by Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe, are holding a security and diplomatic dialogue with the United States in Washington on Friday.

Kissinger said he is pleased to meet Xi in China again at a critical moment when Sino-U.S. relations have entered a new stage. -China military tensions to avoid unintended clashes, with the Chinese general saying confrontation "will spell disaster to all".

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.

During Friday's dialogue, US officials also reaffirmed "strong ties" with Taiwan, which has been self-ruled since the 1940s but claimed by China.

But the exchange on display before reporters served to show just how much space there is between the two sides, particularly over the South China Sea and freedom of navigation.

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.

Although the rescheduling of the dialogue signaled an effort by the two sides to contain the slide in the relationship, it did not address the core dispute on trade. China and the US should better understand each other and enhance communication to expand mutual benefits while managing disagreements. 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. Beijing has retaliated with tariffs on $110 million worth of US goods. Yang insisted that Chinese people have freedom of religion, and that "foreign countries have no right to interfere". But overall, the tone of the USA officials' public comments was milder than that of the Chinese.

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