Confrontation between China and the United States would be a disaster and both must respect each others’ sovereignty, Chinese President Xi Jinping said as he opened annual talks between the world’s two biggest economies.
The two-day talks being led by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is likely to take in China’s currency, North Korea’s nuclear programme and escalating tensions between China and neighbours in the South China Sea, and with Japan in the East China Sea.
We should mutually respect and treat each other equally, and respect the others sovereignty and territorial integrity and respect each others choice on the path of development.
Charges over hacking and Internet spying have also been a factor in tensions between Beijing and Washington. In May, the US charged five Chinese military officers with hacking US companies, prompting Beijing to suspend a Sino-US working group on cyber issues. China has denied wrongdoing.
Xi said Sino-US cooperation was of vital importance.
“China-US confrontation, to the two countries and the world, would definitely be a disaster,” he told the opening ceremony of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue at a government guest house in the west of the city.
“We should mutually respect and treat each other equally, and respect the others sovereignty and territorial integrity and respect each others choice on the path of development.”
Xi added that both countries should strengthen cooperation in fighting terror and speed up talks on a bilateral investment treaty to reach an agreement at an early date.
At the talks, Kerry will raise growing US concerns over China’s “problematic behaviour” in the South China Sea, US officials said earlier.
‘Competition not conflict’
The US has not taken sides in the disputes, but has been critical of China’s behaviour in the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping territorial claims with China.
Beijing, though, views the US as encouraging Vietnam and the Philippines to be more aggressive in the dispute.
Kerry said the US was not seeking to “contain” China.
“We welcome the emergence of a peaceful, stable, prosperous China that contributes to the stability and development of the region, and chooses to play a responsible role in world affairs,” he said.
“We have a profound stake in each others success,” Kerry added. “I can tell you that we are determined to choose the path of peace and prosperity and cooperation, and yes, even competition, but not conflict.”
The annual talks between the US and China have yielded few substantive agreements, in part because relations have grown more complex with China’s increasing power.
Still, US officials have underscored the importance of the discussions to help ensure the relationship does not drift.