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Action pledged for new type of Sino-US ties

By CHEN WEIHUA | China Daily | Updated: 2013-09-21 00:41

China and the United States are committed to building a new type of major power relationship by expanding cooperation and holding candid talks on differences, the nations' top diplomats said.

Visiting Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China is ready to work with the US on good preparations for more high-level engagement and to push forward mutually beneficial cooperation.

Action pledged for new type of Sino-US ties

Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a joint press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the US State Department in Washington on Thursday. Sun Chenbei/ CHINA DAILY

"We look forward to working with the United States to ensure that we will be able to translate the defining feature of this new model of major country relationship, namely non-conflict and confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, into all aspects of the China-US relationship to bring benefits to both our countries and beyond," Wang said.

He was speaking on Thursday at a joint press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department.

The new type of major country relationship was reaffirmed by President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama when they met in California in early June.

Wang, making his first trip to the US since becoming foreign minister in March, said he believes there is tremendous potential for the two nations to work together to further expand and deepen their cooperation.

On Thursday afternoon, Wang met US Vice-President Joe Biden, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce.

Biden said he and Obama both believe that the success of humankind in the 21st century largely depends on how the two countries deal with their relationship and how the two peoples cooperate in tackling common global challenges. He said he is very optimistic.

Kerry said the US has a vested interest in China's growing prosperity and partnership, not only in the Asia-Pacific region, but also around the world.

He described the new type of relationship as based on practical cooperation and constructive management of differences.

"We recognized the need to avoid falling into a trap of seeing one another as strategic rivals," said Kerry, who has met Wang several times in recent months.

"That recognition is now driving our partnership on issues from climate change to wildlife trafficking to military consultations and the promotion of balanced growth around the world," he said.

"Importantly, part of our new relationship is a commitment to engage in frank discussion on sensitive issues, particularly where we disagree, where misunderstanding could lead to a miscalculation," said Kerry, who visited China in April.

Common ground

Syria, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, US rebalancing to Asia-Pacific, Iran, climate change and cybersecurity were among a host of issues the two sides discussed on Thursday.

While they see some common ground on the key issues of Syria and the Korean Peninsula, differences remain.

Wang reiterated that China welcomes the framework agreement reached by the US and Russia.

"We believe that there needs to be early agreement on the decision to be taken by the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons), and at the same time the United Nations Security Council also needs to recognize and support this decision," he said.

"Ultimately, the issue of Syria needs to be resolved through political means. The Chinese side will continue to play its positive and constructive role in that direction," said Wang, a visiting scholar at Georgetown University in 1997 and 1998.

Kerry said that while the US appreciates China's support for a political solution, the two nations have disagreed sharply over how the international community should respond to the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons.

"With negotiation ongoing at the Security Council, we look forward to China playing a positive, constructive, important role," he said.

Analysts said China and Russia felt "somewhat duped" two years ago when a UN Security Council resolution on a no-fly zone over Libya was abused by the US and its NATO allies for regime change.

Both are cautious now that any UN Security Council resolution on Syria will not endorse the use of force.

Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the disagreement on Syria will not have a major impact on the US-China relationship. "Syria is not vital to the Chinese national interest," she said.

New agreement

Wang, who travels to New York at the weekend for the 68th session of the UN General Assembly next week, said he is confident the two sides will reach a new and important agreement regarding the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

"To achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and maintain peace and stability in Northeast Asia serves the common interests of China and the United States," Wang said.

He noted that Thursday was the eighth anniversary of the September 19 Joint Statement, a statement from the Six-Party Talks on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. These talks, which have been stalled since 2008, involve the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea, China, the US, Japan and Russia.

While the US has insisted the DPRK's denuclearization is a precondition for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks, the DPRK said it does not accept any preconditions, while China has urged the US to show more flexibility to get the talks restarted.

Kerry praised China for playing "a very special role in addressing the North Korean nuclear challenge and in achieving our shared goal, the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula".

Charles Armstrong, a history professor at Columbia University and an expert on the Korean Peninsula, said it is difficult for the US to meet the DPRK's demand for no preconditions, as Washington has consistently called for it to halt its nuclear weapons program before negotiations can begin.

"Probably the best way out is for North Korea to halt activity at its Yongbyon plant, and more generally agree to freeze its nuclear program, during the period of US-DPRK talks," he said.

 

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