Date
29 May 2017
China’s Adm. Sun Jianguo walks past his fellow speakers on his way to address the  Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore on Sunday.  Photo:  WSJ
China’s Adm. Sun Jianguo walks past his fellow speakers on his way to address the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore on Sunday. Photo: WSJ

Sino-US maritime tensions simmer ahead of talks

China is pushing back against US criticism of its stance on maritime disputes ahead of economic and security talks expected to be dominated by tensions over the South China Sea.

The talks, beginning Monday in Beijing, take place with China bracing against growing international pressure over its territorial claims and asserting its intent to exercise greater clout as a major power, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Economic strains between Beijing and Washington, meanwhile, have flared over currency and trade practices.

The intent of the high-level talks, which President Barack Obama launched in 2009, is to try to find common ground.

US officials, for instance, have said they would seek Beijing’s help in pressuring North Korea over its nuclear program.

Last week, though, Washington took additional steps to cut off Pyongyang from the global financial system — a move that could expose China, North Korea’s largest trading partner, to negative economic effects.

The annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue is a three-day affair beginning Monday that draws hundreds of US and Chinese officials.

They are led on the US side by Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and on the Chinese side by State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Vice Premier Wang Yang.

Disagreements were evident again on Sunday.

At Asia’s largest security conference in Singapore, Beijing’s highest-ranking delegate spoke forcefully against US-led criticism of China’s activities in the South China Sea, particularly its refusal to accept a coming tribunal ruling at The Hague that could contradict its maritime claims in the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

Adm. Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of the Chinese military’s Joint Staff Department, dismissed what he characterized as US interference in Asian security issues, and rebuffed accusations that Beijing risked isolating itself through its assertive behavior and expansive claims in the South China Sea.

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