Halt mil­i­tari­sa­tion, urges US

Stop mil­i­tari­sa­tion of dis­puted South China Sea, Bei­jing told

The Star Malaysia - - Nation -

China told to stop mo­bil­i­sa­tion on is­lands in dis­puted wa­ters.

WASH­ING­TON: Stand­ing side by side, top US of­fi­cials urged their Chi­nese counterparts to halt mil­i­tari­sa­tion of the dis­puted South China Sea, draw­ing a re­buke from the Chi­nese for send­ing US war­ships close to is­lands claimed by Bei­jing.

Dur­ing a round of high-level talks in Wash­ing­ton, the two sides aired in some­times blunt terms many of their main dif­fer­ences, in­clud­ing a bit­ter trade 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 also seized the op­por­tu­nity to warn pub­licly that a trade war be­tween the world’s two largest economies would end up hurt­ing both sides and to call for keeping chan­nels of com­mu­ni­ca­tion open to re­solve an is­sue that has un­set­tled global fi­nan­cial mar­kets.

De­spite the air­ing of griev­ances, the talks ap­peared aimed at con­trol­ling the dam­age to re­la­tions that has wors­ened in re­cent months and at paving the way for an en­counter be­tween US Pres­i­dent Donald Trump and Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping at the Group of 20 sum­mit in Ar­gentina at the end of November.

“The United States is not pur­su­ing a Cold War or con­tain­ment pol­icy with re­spect to China,” US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo said dur­ing a joint news con­fer­ence.

Even as the United States and China con­front dif­fi­cult chal­lenges, “co­op­er­a­tion re­mains es­sen­tial on many is­sues”, he said.

The meet­ing paired Pom­peo and De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis with Chi­nese Polit­buro mem­ber Yang Jiechi and De­fense Min­is­ter Wei Fenghe. The an­nual US-China Di­plo- matic and Se­cu­rity Di­a­logue was orig­i­nally set for Bei­jing last month but had been called off amid ris­ing ten­sions.

Pom­peo took aim at China over its con­tin­ued build­ing of mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tions on ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands and reefs in the South China Sea, where China in­sists it has sovereignty de­spite com­pet­ing claims from some smaller neigh­bors.

“We have con­tin­ued con­cerns about China’s ac­tiv­i­ties and mil­i­tari­sa­tion in the South China Sea,” Pom­peo said fol­low­ing the talks.

Red fleet: China’s ‘Liaon­ing’ air­craft car­rier and sup­port­ing ships con­duct­ing a drill in the South China Sea in this file pic­ture. — Reuters

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