US presses China to halt militarization of South China Sea, drawing rebuke from Beijing

CNBC:

Standing side by side, top U.S. officials urged their Chinese counterparts on Friday to halt militarization of the disputed South China Sea, drawing a rebuke from the Chinese for sending U.S. warships close to islands claimed by Beijing.

During a round of high-level talks in Washington, the two sides aired in sometimes blunt terms many of their main differences, including a bitter trade dispute, freedom of navigation in Asia-Pacific waters, self-ruled Taiwan, and China’s crackdown on its Muslim minority in Xinjiang.

Two visiting senior Chinese officials also seized the opportunity to warn publicly that a trade war between the world’s two largest economies would end up hurting both sides and to call for keeping channels of communication open to resolve an issue that has unsettled global financial markets.

Despite the airing of grievances, the talks appeared aimed at controlling the damage to relations that has worsened in recent months and at paving the way for an encounter between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina at the end of November.

“The United States is not pursuing a Cold War or containment policy with respect to China,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a joint news conference.

Even as the United States and China confront difficult challenges, “cooperation remains essential on many issues,” he said, citing efforts to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

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