China has ramped up its rhetoric against the United States, demanding Washington stop its “misguided actions” as tensions over trade prevail between the two nations.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo faced a testy exchange with Chinese officials in Beijing on Monday, on the final leg of an East Asian trip focused on the North Korean nuclear issue.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi appealed to Pompeo to cease actions that Beijing sees as threatening its core interests, in order to avoid disrupting cooperation over North Korea and other issues.
Meeting at the Diaoyutai Guest House, Wang told Pompeo that the US had “stepped up rhetoric over trade tensions” after a raft of tit-for-tat tariffs on billions of dollars of US and Chinese goods.
He also accused Washington of making “a series of moves” on Taiwan – a self-ruling democratic island that Beijing considers a rebel province – and “other issues” that hurt Chinese sovereignty.
“These actions have affected the mutual trust between both sides, and has cast a shadow over the prospect of China-US relations, which completely go against the interest of our two peoples,” Wang said.
“We demand the US stop the unwarranted accusations and wrongdoings against China immediately,” the top Chinese diplomat said, adding that the two countries should pursue cooperation “and not descend into conflict and confrontation”.
Tensions between China and the US have been running high of late amid a brewing trade war, which has seen the two world powers raise tariffs on tens of billions of dollars of each other’s goods.
The trade dispute centres on US complaints that Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, US Vice President Mike Pence delivered a searing speech accusing China of interfering in the upcoming US midterm elections, military aggression, commercial theft and rising human rights violations.
The Chinese foreign ministry rejected Pence’s allegations, calling them “groundless” and “ridiculous”.
The US has also angered China with arms sales to Taiwan and new rules allowing top-level US officials to travel to the island, though Washington still recognises Beijing over Taipei.
Responding to Wang’s remarks on Monday, Pompeo said: “The issues that you characterised, we have fundamental disagreements.
“We have great concerns over 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.”
Also on Monday, Pompeo met senior Communist Party foreign affairs official Yang Jiechi, who recalled that Beijing lodged official protests with the United States to express its “dissatisfaction” over a series of US actions.
“China and US relations are at an important juncture and facing challenges,” Yang said. “We hope the US and China will be on the same page.”
Pompeo replied that it was “important that we listen to each other, work through and find constructive solutions so we can find a good outcome for both our countries”.
In a statement released after Pompeo’s meetings, the State Department said both sides agreed on the importance of a “constructive, results-oriented bilateral relationship”.
On Monday, Pompeo wrapped up his three-day East Asia tour aimed at pressing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to give up his country’s nuclear weapons and long-range missile programmes.
China, Pyongyang’s closest ally, has a vital role in the negotiations.
Following a visit to North Korea on Sunday – his fourth – Pompeo said Kim had agreed to arrange a second summit with Trump to take place “at the earliest date possible”.
“We had a good, productive conversation,” Pompeo said about the nearly two-hour-long talks.
International inspectors will be also allowed into North Korea’s dismantled nuclear testing site, Pompeo revealed after his meeting with Kim.
Pompeo’s Asian tour also took him to Japan and South Korea, where he said on Monday in Seoul that there had been “significant progress” towards an agreement for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.
After spending about five hours in Beijing, Pompeo headed for the airport to return to Washington.
But unlike his last visit to Beijing in June, Pompeo did not have a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.