The United States is not pursuing «a Cold War or containment policy» with China despite strategic and economic conflicts between the two powers in the Indo-Pacific region, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday after a bilateral high-level security meeting.
Pompeo made the comment after senior U.S. and Chinese officials clashed over Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea, but they confirmed coordination in pursuit of the denuclearization of North Korea through strict enforcement of U.N. sanctions.
(Yang, left, and Pompeo at a joint press conference)[Getty/Kyodo]
In the meeting in Washington, the officials were apparently at odds over Iran, with Washington pushing Beijing to reduce its oil imports from the country to zero but China vowing to comply with the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, from which President Donald Trump withdrew the United States in May.
On trade, they agreed to support economic officials from the two sides and seek «a mutually acceptable solution» to the ongoing tariff war and what the United States and other countries see as China’s «unfair» trade practices, according to Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China.
The second U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue brought together Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, as well as Yang, director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, and National Defense Minister Wei Fenghe.
The gathering was in preparation for a planned meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit slated for Nov. 30 to Dec. 1 in Argentina.
Speaking at a joint news conference after the security dialogue, Pompeo said the United States has «continued concern about China’s activities in militarization in the South China Sea.»
Beijing’s militarization of outposts in disputed areas of the sea has drawn condemnation from other claimant states and third-party countries as an attempt to force a shift in the regional status quo.
Yang, however, defended China’s activities, saying most of the «constructions on its islands» are «civilian facilities» and warning the United States, a non-claimant state, to stop sending its vessels and aircraft close to what he called «Chinese islands.»
«The purpose is to serve the interests of the Chinese people, but also to provide public good to others,» he said. «At the same time, it is necessary for China to build certain security facilities in response to possible threats from outside.»
Mattis dismissed Yang’s claims as having no legal basis, and said, «We continue to operate anywhere in international waters, international airspace, as all nations are entitled to.
China has overlapping maritime claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan in the sea, a strategic waterway through which over one-third of global trade passes.
Meanwhile, the two sides underscored their «shared desire to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea,» according to Mattis.
«We reaffirmed our nations’ commitments to enforcing the unanimous (U.N.) Security Council (sanctions) resolutions in pursuit of that goal, for the good of all mankind,» he said.
Washington and Pyongyang have been at odds over the process for ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
North Korea has yet to take credible action to dismantle its weapons programs despite leader Kim Jong Un pledging in a historic meeting with Trump in June in Singapore to work toward «complete» denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Referring to China’s pressure on pro-Taiwan countries to sever diplomatic ties with the self-ruled island, Pompeo criticized Beijing’s «increasing efforts to coerce others, constraining Taiwan’s international space.»
The chief U.S. diplomat also urged China to respect the human rights of the largely Muslim Uyghur population in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, as well as other religious minorities in China. Yang responded that «China respects human rights.»
All — Kyodo News+