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US presses China to halt militarisation of South China Sea

10 November 2018, 05:53 | Devin Moran

President Xi meets Henry Kissinger - Xinhua | English.news.cn

FILE China's President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 9 November 2017

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

It is noteworthy that negative voices concerning China have been rising for some time in the United States, Xi said, adding the two countries should have a precise judgment of each other's strategic intentions.

"China is in damage control mode", said Yun Sun, a China expert at the Stimson Center think tank, noting Beijing's uncertainty about what exactly Trump wants out of trade deal but its hopes that with USA mid-term elections out of the way the mercurial American president may be more inclined to reach a compromise.

"We made clear that the United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever worldwide law allows", Mattis said.

The meeting was planned to prepare for the highly-anticipated meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Argentina iat the end of the month.

She said China should abide by the principles reached between the two countries guiding the settlement of the maritime issues and the Declaration of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea "without complicating the situation, affecting peace, security and stability" in the South China Sea.

As the world today is undergoing unprecedented changes that have not been seen in the past 100 years, it is the worldwide community's expectation that China-U.S. relations will continue to move forward in the right direction, the Chinese president said.




Yang, joined by Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe, are holding a security and diplomatic dialogue with the United States in Washington on Friday.

"China faced no consequences when it ignored" USA calls to halt reclamation and new construction in the South China Sea, he said, adding that there was "no reason for it to fold now".

Wei warned that "confrontation or conflict between the two militaries will spell disaster for all" and said that "cooperation is the only option for us". "The US is not trying to contain China but we want fairness and reciprocity".

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis asserted US rights to freedom of navigation but also said the two sides should work together on areas of common interest.

Yun Sun, a China expert at the Stimson Center think tank, said Beijing is uncertain about what exactly Trump wants out of a trade deal, but hopes that with USA midterm elections out of the way, the mercurial American president may be more inclined to reach a compromise. Trump has slapped tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese products, in a push to narrow the US trade deficit and push back against what the USA views as predatory Chinese tactics on the high technology industry. "We pressed China to live up to its past commitments in this area". Beijing has retaliated with tariffs on $110 million worth of USA goods. 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 United Nations report that up to one million members of the mostly Muslim ethnic group have been rounded up in detention camps.

Yang defended China's policies in Xinjiang as measures against "ethnic separatist activities and violent terrorist crimes" but said it was a Chinese internal affair and foreign governments should not interfere.

Reflecting growing US concerns about the Chinese cyber threat, a senior USA intelligence official on Thursday accused China of violating a 2015 agreement aimed at stopping cyber espionage through the hacking of government and corporate data. "They are legitimate", Yang told reporters.



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