China and the U.S. have met for the second round of high-level diplomatic and security talks.
While the two sides are struggling to resolve their trade war, they think they can stabilize relations by cooperating on other issues – to a degree.
CGTN’s Owen Fairclough reports.
They’re locked in a damaging trade war, so diplomacy and military cooperation seem a better bet for China and the U.S. right now.
There’s enough goodwill to bring both high-level diplomats and defense ministers together in one room in Washington and – without President Trump – strike a different tone.
“The two sides need to further step up strategic trust, properly handle differences and promote exchanges and cooperation, so that this military relationship will be a source of stability for the overall bilateral ties,” Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe told a news conference at the U.S. State Department.
There’s broad agreement on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as well as opportunities to cooperate further on counter-terrorism and drug smuggling.
But China’s territorial claims to islands with disputed sovereignty in the South China Sea and the naval forces that operate there remain divisive – a recent near collision between a Chinese and U..S. ship evidence of the tensions at play.
And neither side appears willing to give ground.
“We respect the United States interest in the Asia Pacific. At the same time we expect the United States to respect China’s security interest in the Asia Pacific. China’s sovereignty and development interests,” State Councilor Yang Jiechi said.
Moments later, U.S. Defense Secretary pushed back.
“We also discussed the importance for all military law enforcement and civilian vessels and aircraft including those in the PLA Navy, Chinese Coast Guard and the PRC Maritime Militia to operate in a safe and professional manner in accordance with international law as we seek peaceful resolution of all disputes in the South China Sea,” Mattis said.
This second Diplomatic and Security dialogue under the Trump administration was postponed amid an escalating trade war launched by Trump who accused China of unfair trade practices that it repeatedly denies.
And just how useful this meeting has been to resolve that dispute will be put to the test when President Xi Jinping meets Trump at the G20 summit in Argentina at the end of this month.
Chinese Embassy’s releases statement following China-U.S. security dialogue
Both sides held an in-depth discussion on the preparation for the upcoming meeting between Xi and Trump during the G20 summit in Argentina. Both sides also had sufficient communication on bilateral relationship and other regional and international issues. The dialogue is frank, constructive and fruitful.
Yang Jiechi said that during the telephone conversation between the two presidents on November 1, both leaders agreed to promote the steady growth of the bilateral relationship. Both also agreed to meet during the G20 summit in Argentina, pointing out the next step for teams in both countries.
Both sides highly valued the vision that the two leaders set for the development of China U.S. relationship. Both agreed that the upcoming meeting in Argentina will be highly significant. Both sides also agreed to enhance communication and coordination to ensure a successful summit.
Both sides held in-depth communication on each’s strategic intentions. China emphasized that China will continue to embark on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, continue to reform and open up, continue to pursue a peaceful development and also to build a common destiny of humankind with all other countries. Everything that China has done is to pursue happiness for its own people, and for the rejuvenating of the country, instead of challenging or replacing any other. China will always maintain its role as a builder of world peace, a contributor to the global growth, and a guardian of international order. China insists its defensive policy in national defense. Its growth in military power is in moderation, and it aims to protect its own national security. China has no intention to enter any arms competition with any other countries. The Chinese military will always be a strong and positive force in safeguarding regional and global peace and security. China respects U.S.’ interest in sovereignty, security and development. And the U.S. should give China the same kind of respects. China is devoted to work with the U.S. in achieving a relationship that’s non-confrontational, mutual respectful and beneficial.
The U.S. side introduced their strategic intentions and its policy towards China. The U.S. side emphasized that it welcomes China’s economic development, it’s happy to see China to success and it has no intention to contain China. The U.S. side hopes to develop a relationship that’s mutual respectful and reciprocal. Both sides agreed that a steady bilateral relationship is in line with the fundamental interests of people in both countries and the international community. Both agreed to manage differences and expand cooperation.
Wei Fenghe said that China has been devoted to developing the military ties between the two countries with the utmost sincerity. Wei said that Chinese army will safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity. Both sides should explore rules and ways to avoid accidental conflicts, and make sure that the military ties remain as a stabilizer in the broader bilateral relationship. Both sides agreed to maintain inter-military exchanges at all levels and enhance dialogue and communications to minimize risks. Both sides will maintain communications on establishing a framework for risk avoidance. Both sides also agreed to implement two mutual trust mechanisms on “notification on major military actions” and “safety guidance in case of air and sea encounters”.
The China side explained its principle and stance on the Taiwan issue. It stressed that Taiwan is the most important and sensitive core issue of the China U.S. relationship, concerning China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Taiwan independence force and their action of separatism is the biggest threat to the stability of the Taiwan straits. China opposes all such forces and actions. The One-China Principle is the political foundation of the China U.S. ties. China hopes the U.S. will abide by the One-China principle and the Three Joint Communiques, and handle the Taiwan issue cautiously properly. The U.S. sides reiterated that its government is committed to the One-China policy and is following the joint communiques.
On South China Sea, China emphasized on its indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha islands and adjacent waters. China will safeguard its territorial integrity and ocean interests. China is also committed to solving all disputes with directly relevant parties through negotiations so to maintain the peace and stability in the area. China’s construction of any civil or defensive facilities on its own territory is it’s lawfully right. It’s not an act of militarization. China urges the U.S. to respect facts, and stop all actions that harm China’s sovereignty and security interests.
China also said that Xinjiang is a domestic issue and no other countries should interfere. The Chinese government highly values the economic and social development in Xinjiang. It has adapted a series of measures to promote stability, growth, unity and social welfare. It’s also been targeting any actions of separatism or terrorism. Xinjiang is in general stable. Its economy is developing fast, and all ethnic groups co-exist peacefully. China urges the U.S. to treat the issue subjectively and stop interfering China’s domestic affairs.
China reiterates its stance on trade. Both sides believe they should implement the consensus reached by the two presidents during their recent phone conversation, support the contacts between the trade negotiation teams of both countries, and push to reach a plan that’s acceptable to both parties.
Both agree that China and U.S. have a vast space for cooperation and should push for exchanges and cooperation in economic and trade, military, law enforcement, anti-terrorism, anti-drug trafficking, regional and people-to-people exchanges.
On the Korean Peninsula, China reiterates that it supports denuclearizing the peninsula, maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula, and solving issues through dialogue. China supports direct dialogue between DPRK and the US. China hopes both sides will work towards each other, understand each other’s concern, build on trust, and consider the dual-track mechanism. The U.S. side thanked China for its role in dealing with the issue. Both sides agree that the U.S. and the DPRK should maintain close and practical communication, and that all UN resolutions should be implemented.
Neysun Mahboubi discusses the latest China-US security talks
CGTN’s Elaine Reyes spoke to Neysun Mahboubi for insight into U.S.-China security ties. Mahboubi is a research scholar for the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Study of Contemporary China.