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

FILE China's President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 9 November 2017

President Xi meets Henry Kissinger - Xinhua |

Asserting that U.S. -China bilateral trade is "critical to the world economy", a top Chinese diplomat said Beijing has kept its door open for trade talks with the Trump administration, as the two top global economies are locked in a trade war.

"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 USA support for Taiwan.

However, at the same time, he said, Beijing expects Washington to respect China's security and development interests and sovereignty in the Asia-Pacific. Trump has slapped tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese products, in a push to narrow the USA trade deficit and push back against what the US views as predatory Chinese tactics on the high technology industry.

The nuance between Washington's "One China Policy" and China's "One China Principle" is that the US stance leaves open the possibility that a future resolution could be determined peacefully by both China and Taiwan.

On Monday, Trump said China wanted to make a deal and added: "If we can make the right deal, a deal that's fair, we'll do that".

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

But Wei and Mattis agreed on the need to lower U.S. "Confrontation and conflict between the two militaries will spell disaster for us all". China will stick to a path of peaceful growth and of constructively developing its relationship with the USA based on the principles of mutual respect and mutual benefit, the president said. Beijing has retaliated with tariffs on $110 million worth of US goods. "We pressed China to live up to its past commitments in this area".

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".

Trump, arriving in Paris, lashes out at Macron over defense remarks
But in a tweet prior to landing in Paris, Trump took a dim view of comments Macron made in a Europe 1 radio interview this week. It's a sign of the increasingly different view Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron have towards multilateral institutions.

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

Mattis was also upfront that USA would continue its so-called freedom of navigation program.

Two visiting senior Chinese officials also seized the opportunity to warn publicly that a trade war between the world's two largest economies would end up hurting both sides and to call for keeping channels of communication open to resolve an issue that has unsettled global financial markets.

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

Kissinger said the bilateral relationship requires strategic thinking and vision.

Reflecting growing US concerns about the Chinese cyber threat, a senior USA intelligence official on Thursday accused China of violating a 2015 agreement aimed at stopping cyber espionage through the hacking of government and corporate data.

Pompeo, who has made religious freedom a priority at his State Department, said he had had a "good conversation" on the US' concerns about China's treatment of religious minorities amid reports that Beijing is in the midst of a large-scale effort to "re-educate" its Uighur Muslim population concentrated in Xinjiang province.

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.

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