DIPLOMACY

China and US agree to be more open about their military activities

China and US agree to be more open about their respective activities

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 July, 2014, 4:36am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 July, 2014, 11:42am

China and the United States have pledged to keep each other better informed of their major military activities and launch consultation on rules of behaviour in military and maritime affairs as they seek to contain conflicts.

State Councillor Yang Jiechi also said the two nations would step up consultations on Asia-Pacific affairs, a major area of friction, but reiterated China's sovereignty of disputed waters that has caused tension between Beijing and its neighbours.

Officials from the two nations struck a conciliatory note on Sino-US ties when wrapping up their two-day strategic and economic dialogue in Beijing yesterday. The US delegation was led by Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, while Yang and Vice-Premier Wang Yang headed the Chinese teams.

In his meeting with Kerry and Lew after the talks, President Xi Jinping said China would make "unrelenting efforts" to put Sino-US ties on a healthy track.

Both nations should "reduce troubles" and "seek common ground while accommodating their differences", Xi was quoted as saying by state-run CCTV.

One result of the talks is the call for a substantive defence dialogue and more risk-reduction measures. The two sides also agreed that Chinese maritime law enforcement agencies and the US Coast Guard should set up a working group to discuss rules of behaviour.

A joint working group to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and related technologies would also be established, it was agreed.

Yang added that the two nations also agreed that a constructive Sino-US relationship was crucial to the stability of the Asia-Pacific region, and that they would strengthen coordination on regional affairs through multilateral platforms, such as the summits of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Both sides agreed to conclude negotiations on the text of a bilateral investment treaty this year and begin talks on which sectors to exclude from the treaty in 2015.

Kerry said the talks showed that the two nations could boost cooperation while managing their differences. "We seek a relationship defined not by strategic rivalry, but by practical cooperation on common challenges and constructive management of differences," he said.

But conflicts between the two sides persist, with Yang calling on the US to "honour its commitment of not taking sides" in territorial disputes between China and its neighbours, while Kerry said China should show restraint.