Tillerson talks can help to stabilize relations
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, second left, arrives during his first trip to Asia as Secretary, at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, Wednesday, March 15, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]
With US Secretary of State Rex Tiller son's first visit to China drawing near, hopes are high that the high-level dialogue between the world's two largest economies will produce positive results and send a reassuring signal to the outside world that China and the United States will try their best to avoid conflicts and build more common ground.
Among all the important bilateral and international issues to be discussed in Beijing, Tillerson is expected to help to prepare for the first summit meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump.
It is widely anticipated that the summit could take place soon, which shows the two leaders are eager to deepen their mutual understanding and build a close working relationship so they can jointly steer bilateral ties onto a more stable terrain.
Other issues on top of Tillerson's list will likely include the tense situation on the Korean Peninsula. The decision of Washington and Seoul to accelerate the deployment of a US missile defense shield on the peninsula has strained ties in the region and triggered a series of moves from Pyongyang.
China hopes the US will play a constructive role in resolving the peninsula issue and support China's stance on involving all stakeholders, including the beleaguered parties on the peninsula, in dialogue and consultation so as to ratchet down tensions and pave the way for peaceful resolution to the issue.
The US' increasing involvement in the South China Sea also stands out as an issue between them. By sending US warships to patrol the disputed waters, Washington is doing a disservice to peace and stability, and the move has drawn the ire of Beijing.
In fact, the maritime disputes have seen noticeable signs of abating recently. China and Southeast Asian countries have been engaging in intense consultations on a code of conduct in the waters, with a framework expected to be worked out by midyear.
About the same time as Tillerson's visit to Beijing, China's Vice-Premier Wang Yang is due to meet Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila. This is a clear signal that Beijing and Manila are continuing their efforts to keep their maritime disputes at bay.
Against such a backdrop, the US should seek to play a constructive rather than divisive role in the South China Sea.
People everywhere are anxious to see China and the US transcend their differences and jointly contribute to peace and development. Frequent communication and high-level in-depth consultations are instrumental to realizing such a desirable scenario.