Date
25 March 2017
Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) shakes hands with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People. The two agreed to deepen cooperation between Beijing and Washington. Photo: Reuters
Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) shakes hands with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People. The two agreed to deepen cooperation between Beijing and Washington. Photo: Reuters

President Xi, Tillerson vow cooperation on North Korea

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended his first trip to Asia since taking office with an agreement to work together with China on North Korea and put aside trickier issues.

China has been irked at being repeatedly told by Washington to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and the US decision to base an advanced missile defense system in South Korea, Reuters reports.

Beijing is also deeply suspicious of US intentions toward self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own, with the Trump administration crafting a big new arms package for the island that is bound to anger China.

But meeting in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, President Xi Jinping and Tillerson, brused aside those issues, at least in front of reporters, with Xi saying Tillerson had made a lot of efforts to achieve a smooth transition in a new era of relations.

“You said that China-US relations can only be friendly. I express my appreciation for this,” Xi said.

Xi said he had communicated with President Donald Trump several times through telephone conversations and messages.

“We both believe that China-US cooperation henceforth is the direction we are both striving for. We are both expecting a new era for constructive development,” Xi said.

“The joint interests of China and the United States far outweigh the differences, and cooperation is the only correct choice for us both,” Xi added, in comments carried by China’s Foreign Ministry.

China and the United States must strengthen coordination of hot regional issues, respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, and protect the broad stability of ties, Xi said.

Tillerson replied that Trump looks forward to enhancing understanding with China and the opportunity for a visit in the future.

Tillerson said Trump places a “very high value on the communications that have already occurred” between Xi and Trump.

There was none of the awkwardness of the kind seen in Washington as President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held the first summit meeting between two of the West’s biggest allies.

Even a tweet from Trump criticizing China the night before Tillerson landed in Beijing did not, at least in public, create any discord.

Tillerson and the Chinese officials he met – Foreign Minister Wang Yi and State Councillor Yang Jiechi – struck a positive note, only hinting at differences in their positions.

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CG/RA

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