China fault lines on display as top officials meet

Leroy Wright
November 10, 2018

"That will certainly help reduce security risks", Yang said. 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.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned US President Donald Trump to respect its choices, ahead of the two world leaders meeting at the G20 summit in Argentina later this month.

"The United States will meet with whomever the United States wants to meet with", the official said when asked whether China was warning against such a meeting. China expects the United States "to respect China's security interests in the Asia-Pacific, China's sovereignty and development interests", Yang said Friday.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Chinese Minister of Defense General Wei Fenghe, stand as the national anthems are played during an welcome ceremony at the Pentagon, Friday, Nov. 9, 2018.

"The United States is not pursuing a Cold War or containment policy with respect to China", U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a joint news conference.

A planned trip by Mattis to Beijing last month was cancelled amid rising military tensions between the Pacific powers.

"We made clear that the United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever global law allows", Mattis said.

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.

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The Pentagon had previously declined to comment on a May report quoting unnamed sources with direct knowledge of US 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. The two have sparred, too, over the disputed South China Sea and self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims.

China's Defense Minister Wei Fenghe has issued a stern rebuke of the U.S. and warned that an accidental clash between the two countries could erupt in a global war.

"Our (China-US) trade and economic relations are mutually beneficial by nature and have delivered tangible gains to both the countries and its people".

Meeting former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in Beijing, Xi said he and Trump would have a "deep exchange of views" in Argentina, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

USA officials said they would not halt so-called freedom-of-navigation patrols that are aimed at ensuring countries do not restrict traffic in global waters. China and the USA should better understand each other and enhance communication to expand mutual benefits while managing disagreements.

Lyle Morris, a senior policy analyst at the Rand Corp. focusing on Chinese foreign policy and Asia-pacific security, wrote on Twitter that while military-to-military relationship is "stable and communication is open and frank", both sides "are deeply entrenched in a security dilemma" in the South China Sea in which they disagree on the factors and causes of militarization.

It may be recalled that President Trump had slapped $250 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese goods, accusing Beijing of nefarious trading practices, prompting retaliatory measures.

"The door to negotiation remains open. Nor must it lead to conflict", Mattis said. "And let's not forget how our two sides have successfully navigated through previous rough patches in our economic and trade relations", he said.

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