U.S., China hold se­cu­rity talks amid trade ten­sions

Journal Pioneer - - WORLD -

Even as the United States and China butt heads over trade, their top diplo­mats and de­fence chiefs were meet­ing in Wash­ing­ton on Fri­day, look­ing to tamp down ten­sions on other is­sues that have put a chill on re­la­tions be­tween the two world pow­ers. Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo and De­fence Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis sat down with their coun­ter­parts Yang Jiechi and Wei Fenghe at the State De­part­ment. The talks were due to be held in Bei­jing last month but were post­poned after Wash­ing­ton an­nounced new arms sales to Tai­wan, and U.S. and Chi­nese ves­sels came close to col­lid­ing in the South China Sea.

Al­though the reschedul­ing of the U.S.-China Diplo­matic and Se­cu­rity Di­a­logue sig­nals an ef­fort by the two sides to con­tain the slide in the re­la­tion­ship, it’s some­thing of a place­holder ahead of a planned meet­ing at the end of the month be­tween Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and China’s Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping at a Group of 20 sum­mit in Ar­gentina.

That’s where the two lead­ers are likely to ad­dress the bur­geon­ing trade dis­pute that’s al­ready hurt­ing con­stituen­cies in both na­tions and threat­ens to weigh on the wider global econ­omy.

Trump has slapped tar­iffs on $250 bil­lion in Chi­nese prod­ucts, in a push to nar­row the U.S. trade deficit and push back against what the U.S. views as preda­tory Chi­nese tac­tics on the high tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try. Bei­jing has re­tal­i­ated with tar­iffs on $110 mil­lion worth of U.S. goods.

“We want this to be a con­struc­tive, re­sults-ori­en­tated re­la­tion­ship with China,” the U.S. am­bas­sador to China, Terry Branstad, told re­porters on Thurs­day. “The United States is not try­ing to con­tain China, but we want fair­ness and rec­i­proc­ity.” He de­scribed Fri­day’s meet­ing as a chance for a “frank and open” ex­change of views on is­sues like North Korea, hu­man rights, and co-op­er­a­tion on Afghanistan and Iran, where the U.S. is press­ing Bei­jing to cut oil im­ports. The U.S. also seeks ac­tion from China on the ex­port of a syn­thetic form of opi­oids called fen­tanyl that is a scourge of drug ad­dic­tion in Amer­ica.

Branstad said they would also dis­cuss “strate­gic se­cu­rity” and avoid­ing ac­ci­dents be­tween the two mil­i­taries.

The U.S. Navy says a Chi­nese de­stroyer came close to the USS De­catur in late Septem­ber in an “un­safe and un­pro­fes­sional ma­noeuvr” near a dis­puted reef in the South China Sea, where Bei­jing has sweep­ing but dis­puted sovereignty claims.

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