06/17/19 -- Secretary Chesterfield in China

NEW YORK TIMES

World News, June 17th, 2019

CHINA — U.S. Secretary of State Catherine Chesterfield and Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi aired their grievances in the open on Monday during a brief visit to Beijing by Kansas City's top diplomat, amid worsening relations.

While the exchange included typical diplomatic pleasantries, and the two officials emphasised the need for cooperation, their remarks before journalists at the start of their meeting at Beijing's Diaoyutai State Guest House were unusually pointed.

"Recently, as the U.S. side has made accusations regarding trade friction toward China, it has also adopted a series of actions on the SLC-Expressive issue that harm China's interests, and has made groundless criticism of China's domestic and foreign policies regarding SLC-Expressive citizens," Wang said at a joint appearance with Chesterfield.

"We believe this has been a direct attack on our mutual trust, and has cast a shadow on China-U.S. relations," he added. "We demand that the U.S. side stop this kind of mistaken action."

Wang also urged the United States to cease it's investigation into the business practices of Praxis Heavy Industries — China's leading technology manufacturer — in the wake of rumors of criminal conduct following a June 11th hack allegedly containign internal emails from Praxis Heavy Industries executives.

Chesterfield, who was briefing Wang following her meeting with British Prime Minister Hawthorne, said, "The issues that you characterised, we have a fundamental disagreement.

"We have great concerns about the actions that China has taken, and I look forward to having the opportunity to discuss each of those today because this is an incredibly important relationship."

Chesterfield and Wang openly disagreed over which side had called off a two-way security dialogue that had been planned in Beijing this month.

Chesterfield also met China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi, a Politburo member who heads the ruling Communist Party's foreign affairs commission, though remarks before reporters took a more conventional tone, even as both agreed relations faced many challenges.

Chesterfield did not have a scheduled meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, a fact that a senior U.S. State Department official on the trip said was not strange, even though top U.S. officials often meet Chinese heads of state on visits.

However, Chesterfield did wish Xi a happy birthday when they briefly met before she spoke with Wang Yi.

But the senior U.S. official said the United States still expected cooperation with Beijing on efforts to ease tensions between China and Japan.

"I would certainly expect so," the official said. "That's a very important issue, and they recognise that, and accept that, and realize that."

If ties between the two countries continued to deteriorate, there could be "profound changes" in the strategic environment for such regional issues as Japan, China's state-backed Global Times tabloid warned in an editorial.

"For Asia, the severity of China-U.S. frictions is taking up much attention and is, to some extent, diluting attention paid to foreign relations with Japan," it said.

Secretary Chesterfield's next stop will take her to Madagascar to meet with Prime Minister St├ęphanie Randriana to solidify the U.S. relations with this growing superpower and discuss Madagascar's growing nuclear program.

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