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U.S. presses China to halt militarization of South China Sea

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Standing facet by way of facet, best U.S. officials recommended their Chinese opposite numbers on Friday to halt militarization of the disputed South China Sea, drawing a rebuke from the Chinese for sending U.S. warships with regards to islands claimed by way of Beijing.

During a round of high-level talks in Washington, the 2 facets aired in infrequently blunt terms many in their primary variations, including a sour industry dispute, freedom of navigation in Asia-Pacific waters, self-ruled Taiwan, and China’s crackdown on its Muslim minority in Xinjiang.

Two visiting senior Chinese officials additionally seized the chance to warn publicly {that a} industry warfare between the sector’s two biggest economies would finally end up hurting each side and to call for conserving channels of verbal exchange open to get to the bottom of a topic that has unsettled global monetary markets.

Despite the displaying of grievances, the talks gave the impression geared toward controlling the wear to members of the family that has worsened in fresh months and at paving the best way for an stumble upon between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the Group of 20 summit in Argentina on the finish of November.

“The United States is not pursuing a Cold War or containment policy with respect to China,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo instructed a joint information convention.

Even because the United States and China confront tough demanding situations, “cooperation remains essential on many issues,” he stated, bringing up efforts to influence North Korea to desert its nuclear programme.

The assembly paired Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis with Chinese Politburo member Yang Jiechi and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe. The annual U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue used to be at first set for Beijing final month however have been known as off amid emerging tensions.

Pompeo took intention at China over its persisted development of army installations on synthetic islands and reefs within the South China Sea, the place China insists it has sovereignty in spite of competing claims from some smaller neighbours.

“We have continued concerns about China’s activities and militarization in the South China Sea,” Pompeo stated following the talks. “We pressed China to live up to its past commitments in this area.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, proper, speaks as Chinese Communist Party Office of Foreign Affairs Director Yang Jiechi listens as the 2 nations dangle a joint information convention after taking part in a 2d diplomatic and security assembly on the U.S. Department of State, Washington, U.S., November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Yang stated China used to be dedicated to “non-confrontation” however that Beijing had the appropriate to construct “necessary defence facilities” on what it considers its personal territory and recommended Washington to stop sending warships and armed forces planes with regards to the islands that Beijing claims.

Mattis made transparent that this call for pass unheeded by way of Washington, which insists it’s performing under global regulation to maintain get right of entry to for it and others to the South China Sea.

In a remark on Saturday, China’s Foreign Ministry described the talks as “frank, constructive and very fruitful.”


Responding sharply to Pompeo’s point out of Taiwan, which China considers a wayward province however which is armed by way of Washington, Wei stated Beijing would shield its claim at the island “at any cost.”

But Wei and Mattis agreed at the want to decrease U.S.-China army tensions to keep away from unintentional clashes, with the Chinese basic pronouncing disagreement “will spell disaster to all.” Washington has protested to Beijing about fresh behaviour by way of its warships that the U.S. Navy thought to be unsafe.

While Pompeo spoke little about industry in his public feedback, Yang stated he was hoping the 2 facets would discover a mutually appropriate answer at the factor “before long.”

China and the United States have slapped price lists on loads of billions of bucks of one another’s items, jolting global monetary markets, and Trump has threatened to set price lists on the rest of China’s $500 billion-plus exports to the United States if the industry dispute can’t be resolved.

Trump’s management has additionally accused China of meddling in U.S. politics forward of this week’s congressional elections, fees China strongly denies.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meet with Chinese Minister of National Defense Gen. Wei Fenghe and Chinese Communist Party Office of Foreign Affairs Director Yang Jiechi throughout the second one U.S. – China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue on the State Department in Washington, U.S., November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Reflecting rising U.S. considerations concerning the Chinese cyber danger, a senior U.S. intelligence professional on Thursday accused China of violating a 2015 settlement geared toward preventing cyber espionage during the hacking of government and company information.

Pompeo additionally reiterated U.S. grievance of China’s “repression of religious groups,” bringing up remedy of Buddhists in Tibet and minority Uighur Muslims within the Xinjiang area that has drawn condemnation from human rights teams.

Yang defended China’s insurance policies in Xinjiang as measures against “ethnic separatist activities and violent terrorist crimes” however stated it used to be a Chinese inner affair and international governments will have to now not intrude.

Reporting by way of Matt Spetalnick and Idrees Ali; further reporting by way of Doina Chiacu and Mohammad Zargham, and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by way of James Dalgleish, Tom Brown and Nick Macfie

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