BEIJING, Jul 9 – China and the United States Wednesday launched high-level talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping urging the world’s two biggest economies to break old patterns of confrontation.
Given their different histories and cultures “it is natural that China and the US may have different views and even frictions on certain issues”, Xi told the opening of the two-day annual talks in Beijing.
“This is what makes communication and cooperation even more necessary,” he urged, speaking in the same compound where then US president Richard Nixon met Mao Zedong on his groundbreaking visit to China in 1972.
The sixth Strategic and Economic Dialogue comes as tensions rise over maritime disputes, as well as US fears over cybersecurity and Chinese hacking.
“Our interests are more than ever interconnected,” Xi insisted, saying the two nations “stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation”.
“If we are in confrontation it will surely spell disaster for both countries and for the world,” he said, adding the Pacific powers needed to “break the old pattern of inevitable confrontation”.
“One can ill afford a mistake on fundamental issues, a mistake that may possibly ruin the whole undertaking.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is leading Washington’s team with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, agreed saying “we have a profound stake in each other’s success”.
“It is not lost on any of us that through history there has been a strategic pattern of confrontation between rising and established powers,” he said.
– Cybersecurity row –
But Kerry sought to address Chinese concerns, insisting that “the United States does not seek to contain China, we welcome the emergence of a peaceful, stable, prosperous China”.
“We may differ on one issue or another… but when we make that difference, do not interpret it as an overall strategy”, the top US diplomat stressed.
The talks come as China and its neighbours have stepped up patrols of disputed territory, raising fears of a clash with US security ally Japan in the East China Sea, while incidents in the South China Sea have included rammings, the use of water cannon and arrests of fishermen.
While Xi did not address the territorial issues directly, he repeated that China was committed to establishing “friendly relations with its neighbours and beyond”.
Kerry will also seek to persuade China to reinstate a cybersecurity working group in a bid to draw up rules for using and protecting the Internet.
The new group, which has only met twice, was cancelled by Beijing after the US indicted five Chinese military officers for hacking into US businesses — charges dismissed by China as “intentionally fabricated”.
Other issues high on the agenda include climate change, wildlife trafficking and nuclear-armed North Korea, following a visit last week by Xi to Seoul.
This year marks 35 years since the establishment of formal US-China ties, and trade between the two giants ballooned to more than $520 billion last year, 200 times trade the $3 billion in 1979.
“Our futures are inextricably entwined,” Kerry insisted.