China, US to iron out trade issues

Top diplomats from both sides also agree to second round of dialogues

Top diplomats from Beijing and Washington have agreed to find ways to effectively resolve their trade problems, in addition to conducting the second round of the four high-level dialogues between China and the United States this year.

The meeting on Thursday between State Councilor Yang Jiechi and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was deeply significant, as it is vital for the two countries to maintain smooth communications over thorny issues and keep bilateral ties strategically stable, a senior researcher said.

In a meeting with Tillerson in Washington, Yang said the two countries should maintain the healthy development of trade ties through opening up markets and expanding cooperation.

They should also discuss more cooperation in various areas such as energy, infrastructure construction and the Belt and Road Initiative, said Yang, who was on a two-day visit to the US starting on Thursday, according to a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry.

Both sides agreed to conduct the second round of the Diplomatic and Security Dialogue during the first half of 2018. The remainder of the dialogues will be held this year.

As agreed to by President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump at their Florida meeting in April last year, the two countries held four high-level dialogues last year for the first time, in areas including diplomacy, security, economy, social and cultural exchanges, law enforcement and cybersecurity.

Yang and Tillerson also agreed to follow through on the consensus that Xi and Trump had reached in their November meeting in Beijing during Trump’s state visit to China, and to manage differences properly.

The two countries’ work teams should expand exchange and cooperation in areas including trade and military and stick to a constructive approach in managing differences and sensitive issues, Yang said.

Tillerson said the US hopes to consolidate and expand mutually beneficial cooperation with China and deal with differences properly in the spirit of mutual respect.

Yang said both sides’ work teams should also strengthen communication and coordination over major international and regional issues, including the Korean Peninsula, and called for the international community to support the improvement of ties between Pyongyang and Seoul for a sustained easing of tensions.

Yuan Zheng, a researcher at the Institute of American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Yang’s visit is “very important” in terms of easing, through dialogue, issues that have affected bilateral ties.

Though the ties are stable in general, they have been hit by issues including the Korean Peninsula and trade since last year, Yuan said, adding that the US has worsened the atmosphere by calling China its “competitor”.

Friction will surely occur between the two countries in areas such as trade, but this will not upset bilateral ties, the researcher said.

Also during Thursday’s meeting, Yang urged the US to treat seriously China’s concern over the Taiwan question. Tillerson said the US remains committed to the one-China policy.

The US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations passed on Wednesday the Taiwan Travel Act, which aims to “encourage visits between the United States and Taiwan at all levels”.

Beijing expressed on Friday its strong dissatisfaction over the committee’s move, and said it has lodged “solemn representations” with Washington.

It will cause grave disruption to China-US ties and the situation across the Taiwan Straits if the bill becomes law, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang warned, urging the US to drop the bill.

It is very clear that China will make no concessions over the Taiwan question and that the US will only risk backfiring if it continues with the bill, Yuan said.