China-US relations

Both sides agree communication is key as Tillerson visit to China begins

US Secretary of State in Beijing for talks on a range of issues, including North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 March, 2017, 6:50pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 March, 2017, 10:48pm

The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has met with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing. The talks on Saturday were expected to be dominated by North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula. Here are the main points covered in the talks.


Both sides agreed that North Korea should be stopped from developing nuclear weapons and launching missile tests. “I think we share a common view and a sense that tensions in the [Korean] peninsula are quite high right now and that things have reached a rather dangerous level,” Tillerson said after meeting with Wang.

The Chinese foreign minister said there had to be a commitment to use diplomatic means to peacefully settle the North Korea issue, while Tillerson said all previous attempts have failed.

“We know that efforts made over the last 20 years so far have not succeed in curbing North Korea’s illegal weapon programme,” Tillerson said.

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Wang also said he had expressed China’s opposition to the deployment of a missile defence shield in South Korea. Seoul says it is needed to counter North Korea’s nuclear weapons, but Beijing says the system poses a threat to China’s security.


US President Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on Chinese goods imported into the US and has labelled China a currency manipulator. Tillerson raised trade issues in his talks with Wang. “Our two countries should have a positive trade relationship that is fair and pays dividends both ways,” he said.


Wang and Tillerson said it was important to build the Sino-US relationship on the principles of non-confrontation, mutual respect and cooperation. Both men also agreed to step up communications between the two countries’ governments.

“The two nations should properly resolve their differences and push forward the development of Sino-US relations,” Wang told reporters after meeting with Tillerson.


Wang said in his opening remarks before his talks with Tillerson that the top US diplomat’s trip to China was an important step in preparing for a summit between the two nations’ leaders.

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“Through the hard work of both sides, the Sino-US relations is developing positively and in a stable manner after President Trump has assumed office,” Wang said. “The two sides are communicating about a summit between the leaders of the two nations and exchanges among different levels of officials. Your visit is a key step towards this.”


Wang said he reiterated to Tillerson Beijing’s position on Taiwan. China has previously said the one-China principle is the foundation of ties with the US.

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Tillerson said he raised human rights and the issue of religious freedom with Wang, but gave no details of their discussions.