US-China pick up trade, security talks
Washington – The United States and China resumed top-level talks yesterday after months of spiralling tension, looking for a way forward on disputes from trade to military friction.
The delayed meeting in Washington came weeks before US leader Donald Trump is expected to meet his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Argentina, with both sides hoping they can announce some progress.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis were to spend yesterday morning with two high-ranking Chinese policymakers, days after a congressional election in which Trump painted China as a bogeyman.
A planned trip by Mattis to Beijing last month was cancelled amid rising military tensions between the Pacific powers. But yesterday, China’s Minister of Defence General Wei Fenghe was to visit the Pentagon for a ceremonial honour cordon.
The defence chiefs were to hold talks beforehand at the state department jointly with Pompeo and senior Communist Party official Yang Jiechi, a longtime architect of Chinese foreign policy who formerly served as ambassador to Washington.
The talks will focus on security, but trade is at the heart of tensions. Trump has slapped $250 billion (R3.5 trillion) worth of tariffs on Chinese goods, accusing Beijing of nefarious trading practices, prompting retaliatory measures.
While some of the Trump administration’s comments on China have prompted commentators to draw parallels to the Cold War, the US ambassador to Beijing, Terry Branstad, said the US was not seeking confrontation for its own sake. “We want a constructive, results-oriented relationship with China. The US is not trying to contain China, but we want fairness and reciprocity.” –
The US is not trying to contain China, but we want fairness and reciprocity. Terry Branstad US ambassador to Beijing