US, China should ensure G20 talks go well, senior diplomat says

Nellie Chapman
November 10, 2018

Pompeo also reiterated US 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 United States and China are to resume talks today after months of spiralling tension in a bid to resolve their trade disputes.

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

The conversations were held in an atmosphere of responsibility and respect, according to Mr. Pompeo, who acknowledged that China and the USA face "significant differences between our nations" in such areas as trade, due to the mutual imposition of billions of dollars in tariffs.

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. "A trade war, instead of leading to any solution, will only end up hurting both sides and the global economy", Yang said.

The United States also took Beijing's military to task over its assertive posture in the dispute-rife South China Sea, which has witnessed a series of incidents including the buzzing of a US Navy surveillance aircraft previous year by a Chinese warplane.

Pompeo and Mattis also told China to stop militarizing the islands in the South China Sea.

The talks held on Friday in Washington were meant to prepare the way for a meeting of President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping later this month at the G20 summit in Argentina.

The disputed sea is a major Asian trade route, where Beijing has landfilled areas for military infrastructure.

However, speaking in Singapore at a forum on Wednesday, former US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said there was a risk of an economic "Iron Curtain" falling between China and the United States unless China carried out reforms and that some people in the United States would like to "divorce" China.

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

Pompeo, while interacting with the media, said, "President Trump has made it clear that the USA seeks a constructive and results-oriented relationship with China grounded in fairness, reciprocity and respect". "Confrontation and conflict between the two militaries will spell disaster for us all".

Still Pompeo also was clear in addressing US concerns, including Beijing's increasingly assertive posture in the South China Sea.

"There is no such problem of freedom of navigation and overflights being obstructed, so to use this issue as an excuse to military action is unjustifiable", he said.

Mr Trump has imposed £192 billion (US$250 billion) worth of tariffs on Chinese goods as part of his America First trade policy.

Trump has made reaching a denuclearization agreement with North Korea a top priority since his landmark summit in June with the totalitarian state's leader Kim Jong Un.

It is noteworthy that negative voices concerning China have been rising for some time in the United States, Xi said, adding the two countries should have a precise judgment of each other's strategic intentions.

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.

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.

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