Pom­peo: US not pur­su­ing ‘cold war’ against China

Manila Times - - World -

WASH­ING­TON: The United States on Fri­day (Satur­day in Manila) in­sisted it was not pur­su­ing a new “Cold

pow­ers could only pa­per over deep dif­fer­ences dur­ing high-level talks.

The de­fense chiefs and top

coun­tries met in Wash­ing­ton for a reg­u­lar di­a­logue that had been pushed back amid months of spi­ral­ing ten­sions be­tween the world’s two largest economies.

Af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s barbed com­ments against China in the runup to this week’s con­gres­sional elec­tions, Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo turned con­cil­ia­tory in tone if not al­ways in sub­stance.

“The United States is not pur­su­ing a Cold War or con­tain­ment pol­icy with China,” Pom­peo told a joint news con­fer­ence.

“Rather, we want to en­sure that China act re­spon­si­bly and fairly in sup­port of se­cu­rity and pros­per­ity in each of our two coun­tries,” Pom­peo said.

But Pom­peo also was up­front about US con­cerns. While the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has gen­er­ally been soft-spo­ken on hu­man rights, at least with al­lies, Pom­peo de­nounced China’s “re­pres­sion” of re­li­gious and mi­nor­ity groups in­clud­ing the Uighur com­mu­nity, cit­ing a UN re­port that up to one mil­lion mem­bers of the mostly Mus­lim eth­nic group have been rounded up in de­ten­tion camps.

And on Tai­wan, while as­sur­ing his guests that the United States only rec­og­nizes Bei­jing, Pom­peo was in­creas­ingly forth­right in ad­vo­cat­ing for the self-rul­ing democ­racy, crit­i­ciz­ing Bei­jing’s ef­forts to iso­late the is­land it con­sid­ers a rene­gade prov­ince.

The United States also took Bei­jing’s mil­i­tary to task over its as­sertive pos­ture in the dis­pute-rife South China Sea, which has wit­nessed a se­ries of in­ci­dents in­clud­ing the buzzing of a US Navy sur­veil­lance air­craft last year by a Chi­nese war­plane.

De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis said the talks were “can­did” but that the two mil­i­taries looked to im­prove com­mu­ni­ca­tion and avoid “mis­cal­cu­la­tion” at sea.

“And we made clear that the

sail and op­er­ate wher­ever in­ter­na­tional law al­lows,” Mat­tis said.

Yang Jiechi, a vet­eran ar­chi­tect of Bei­jing’s for­eign pol­icy, in­sisted that China al­lows free­dom of re­li­gion and crit­i­cized the United States for what he saw as its own “mil­i­ta­riza­tion” of the South China Sea.

“There is no such prob­lem of free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion and over-

this is­sue as an ex­cuse to mil­i­tary

“The Chi­nese side made it clear to the United States that it should stop send­ing its ves­sels and mil­i­tary air­craft close to Chi­nese is­lands and reefs and stop ac­tions that un­der­mine China’s sovereignty and se­cu­rity in­ter­ests,” he said.

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