US and China to Hold Security Talks Amid Trade Tensions

Clay Curtis
November 10, 2018

At a news conference in the presence of Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪), Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted the stable relations between the USA and Taiwan.

"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 Chinese authority and security interests", said Pompeo's Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, who also had sharp words over US support for Taiwan. He also made a point to mention the importance the United States places on getting China to reduce oil imports from Iran to zero, a commitment Beijing has emphatically said it will oppose.

Mattis made clear that this demand go unheeded by Washington, which insists it is acting under global law to preserve access for it and others to the South China Sea. In late September, U.S. and Chinese vessels almost collided near a disputed reef.

"Both sides should seek an appropriate solution through equal and mutually beneficial negotiations", said Yang, adding that the essence of China, U.S. trade and economic ties is mutually beneficial.

China's foreign ministry said Yang Jiechi met United States national security adviser John Bolton on Wednesday and that the two sides should "properly manage differences and carefully prepare to ensure positive results in the Argentina meeting".

Meeting US national security adviser John Bolton in Washington ahead of those talks, Yang said on Wednesday that the two sides should "properly manage differences and carefully prepare to ensure positive results in the Argentina meeting", China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Xi told former USA secretary of state Henry Kissinger that he and Trump would have "a deep exchange of views" in Argentina, according to the Chinese state news agency.

Mr Wei added to this, by warning that a confrontation between the two powers would "will spell disaster to all".

"We have continued concerns about China's activities and militarization in the South China Sea", Pompeo said following the talks. Since July, China and the US have imposed tariffs on half the annual imports from each other, followed by heated rhetoric and sabre rattling in the South China Sea.

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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.

China and the United States have slapped tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other's goods, jolting global financial markets, and Trump has threatened to set tariffs on the remainder of China's $500 billion-plus exports to the United States if the trade dispute can not be resolved. Beijing said the ongoing trade war hurts both sides. "We pressed China to live up to its past commitments in this area". "Their top priority is to stabilize relations", she said.

Mattis called the talks "candid" and said that the two militaries looked to improve communication and avoid "miscalculation" at sea.

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

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.

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.

Yang on Friday noted the Chinese government attaches great importance to social and economic development in Xinjiang and Tibet and has taken a host of measures to promote stability, "unity" and people's well-being there.

The Pentagon had previously declined to comment on a May report quoting unnamed sources with direct knowledge of USA intelligence reports as saying that the anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems had been deployed to Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef in April or early May.

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