China scolds USA over presence in South China Sea

CHINA-US-DIPLOMACY

The United States also took Beijing's military to task over its assertive posture in the dispute-rife South China Sea, which has witnessed a series of incidents including the buzzing of a US Navy surveillance aircraft past year by a Chinese warplane.

Yang outranks the Chinese government's top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi.

A "frank" exchange of views can be expected in top-level diplomatic and security talks between the United States and China on Friday, including on issues such as human rights and the South China Sea, the U.S. ambassador to China said.

They were supposed to have been held in Beijing in October but were delayed amid rising tensions over trade, Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Mattis responded that the United States would "fly, sail and operate wherever global law allows".

China and the United States have put tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other's goods and U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to set tariffs on the remainder of China's US$500 billion-plus exports to the United States if the trade dispute can not be resolved.

The officials were set to discuss issues ranging from the South China Sea to human rights and cooperation on issues involving countries like Afghanistan and Iran, US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad told reporters Thursday.

On Monday, Trump said China wanted to make a deal and added: "If we can make the right deal, a deal that's fair, we'll do that".

Defense Minister Wei reiterated during the press conference that China would take any necessary measures to ensure the eventual unification of Taiwan is not threatened, a statement in response to the sailing of a USA warship through the Taiwan Strait for the second time in several months.

And a high-profile meeting could occur in the coming days, when U.S. Vice President Mike Pence travels to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Papua New Guinea. -China military tensions to avoid unintended clashes, with the Chinese general saying confrontation "will spell disaster to all".

While the USA and others have pointed to China's construction of facilities in the South China Sea that effectively create military bases, Yang suggested said that if any country is militarizing the region, it is the US.

Trump has railed against China for what he sees as intellectual property theft, entry barriers to U.S. business and a gaping trade deficit.

While Pompeo spoke little about trade in his public comments, Yang said he hoped the two sides would find a mutually acceptable solution on the issue "before long".

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis asserted USA rights to freedom of navigation but also said the two sides should work together on areas of common interest.

But just as he was speaking, a top advisor to Trump, Peter Navarro, vowed to press China hard on trade.

Although the rescheduling of the dialogue signaled an effort by the two sides to contain the slide in the relationship, it did not address the core dispute on trade.

China and the United States have slapped tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other's goods, jolting global financial markets, and Trump has threatened to set tariffs on the remainder of China's $500 billion-plus exports to the United States if the trade dispute can not be resolved.

Trump has made reaching a denuclearization agreement with North Korea a top priority since his landmark summit in June with the totalitarian state's leader Kim Jong Un. But overall, the tone of the USA officials' public comments was milder than that of the Chinese. Washington has protested to Beijing about recent behavior by its warships that the U.S. Navy considered unsafe.

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