Top U.S. officials recently met with their Chinese counterparts in Washington in the first session of the Diplomatic and Security Dialogue between the U.S. and China since it was created by Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump at Mar-a-la-go in April.
At a press briefing, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the discussions “productive,” dealing both with the possibility of expanding cooperation where the two countries have a shared security interest; and addressing issues where the United States and China have significant differences.
The security threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program, which the United States regards as the most serious threat facing the nation, was a leading topic.
Secretary Tillerson said he emphasized to Chinese officials that “they have a diplomatic responsibility to exert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure on the [North Korean] regime if they want to prevent further escalation in the region.”
Another frank exchange of views occurred over the South China Sea. The U.S. position remains unchanged, Secretary Tillerson said: “We oppose changes to the status quo…through the militarization of outposts…and excessive maritime claims unsupported by international law, and we uphold the freedom of navigation and overflight.”
He noted that China “committed to resolve their disputes peacefully, and in accordance with recognized principles of international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.”
During the discussions, the two countries also decided to increase coordination to face the global threat posed by terrorism, and to work toward a long-term risk reduction effort between their militaries and government.
Lastly, the United States was clear about its determination to stand up for human rights and universal values. “We will not be shy about raising our concerns about China’s human rights record,” Secretary Tillerson stated, adding that he had been “direct and candid” with the Chinese about the issue.
Secretary Tillerson said the action-items agreed to by the two countries during the Dialogue “have set the foundation for additional areas of cooperation” and have started the implementation of President’s Trump’s “vision for constructive, results-oriented bilateral relations.”