WASHINGTON (AP) — China bluntly told the United States to stop sending ships and military aircraft close to islands claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea, during talks Friday that set the stage for a meeting between President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping later this month.
The U.S. pushed back, insisting it will continue to “fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows.” In late September, U.S. and Chinese vessels nearly collided near a disputed reef.
Despite the frank airing of differences at the meeting in Washington of the two nations’ top diplomats and military chiefs, both sides stressed the need to tamp down tensions, which have flared amid a bitter trade dispute that Trump and Xi are expected to tackle at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina.
“The United States is not pursuing a policy of Cold War containment with China,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters following the U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue. “Rather we want to ensure that China acts responsibly and fairly in support of security and prosperity of each of our two countries.”
The talks were due to be held in Beijing last month but were postponed after Washington announced new arms sales to Taiwan, and after a Chinese destroyer came close to the USS Decatur in late September in what the U.S. Navy called an “unsafe and unprofessional maneuver.” Beijing has sweeping but disputed sovereignty claims in the area.