Date
22 January 2017
US State Secretary John Kerry (left) gestures during a meeting with President Xi Jinping. Kerry was in Beijing to pave the way for Xi's US visit in September. Photo: Reuters
US State Secretary John Kerry (left) gestures during a meeting with President Xi Jinping. Kerry was in Beijing to pave the way for Xi's US visit in September. Photo: Reuters

Xi Jinping: China and US can both be Pacific powers

President Xi Jinping wants the United States and China to manage disputes in a way that doesn’t affect their relationship.

Xi told US State Secretary John Kerry on Sunday that Sino-US relations “stable on the whole”, according to Reuters.

“The new type of China-US relationship has witnessed early harvest,” Xi said. 

Still, Xi, who has spoken previously of a new model of major power relations to accommodate a rising China, said the two countries “should manage, control and handle disputes in an appropriate way so that the general direction of the bilateral relationship will not be affected”.

“The broad Pacific Ocean is vast enough to embrace both China and the United States,” Xi said.

The US has been pressing China to show restraint in its large-scale land reclamation in the contested South China Sea.

US Pacific Fleet Commander Harry Harris has said China is building a “great wall of sand” — and the tensions risk overshadowing Xi’s planned visit to the US in September.

Alongside China’s military expansion, it has been building its economic clout in ways that may challenge the western-led world order.

In a meeting on Saturday with Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Kerry expressed concern that China is seeking to establish de facto control of the South China Sea by expanding shoals and islets.

Kerry said he urged China “to take actions that will join with everybody in helping to reduce tensions and increase the prospect of a diplomatic solution,” to conflicting territorial claims within the key international waterway.

Wang rebutted the US diplomat, defending the reclamation work as a matter of national interest.

“I would like to reaffirm that the determination of the Chinese side to safeguard our own sovereignty and territorial integrity is as firm as a rock,” he said.

Kerry was in the Chinese capital for two days of meetings with senior Chinese officials to plan and prepare for Xi’s first official visit to the US.

China claims more than 80 percent of the South China Sea, encompassing some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

It has quadrupled land reclamation to 2,000 acres, prompting protests from other claimants including the Philippines and Vietnam.

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