President Xi Jinping called on China and the United States to make a correct judgment on their strategic intentions in today’s kick-off speech for an annual high-level dialogue between the two powers.
“If we are in confrontation, it will surely spell disaster for both countries and for the world,” he said.
The two-day Strategic and Economic Dialogue began in Beijing with Vice-Premier Wang Yang and State Councillor Yang Jiechi leading the Chinese side, and Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew heading the US side.
Addressing the delegations, Xi said friction between the two nations is inevitable, as they are on different development paths. But also as these talks are taking place in an atmosphere of growing mutual mistrust, he added they have to break the old pattern of confrontation.
“How China and the US perceive each other’s strategic intentions will have a direct bearing on the policies we adopt and the development of our bilateral ties,” he said. “One can ill afford the mistake on fundamental issues, a mistake that may possibly ruin the whole undertaking."
The US should also respect China’s territorial integrity, and the two nations should “refrain from imposing their views on the other side”, Xi added.
The sixth round of the annual dialogue is being overshadowed by increasing suspicions between the two nations, which some observers say have reached a “surprising” level, over their presence in the Asia-Pacific region, and cyber-security.
Beijing has rebuked Washington for stepping up military ties with Asian nations involved in bitter territorial disputes with China, calling the policy a containment strategy. On May 19, the US Justice Department indicted five Chinese military officers for hacking into US companies to steal trade secrets, and Beijing responded by suspending a bilateral cyber-security working group.
But Xi said the Asia-Pacific region is vast enough for the presence of the two nations, calling for them to engage in dialogue to resolve their differences.
Stepping up dialogue can help “dispelling misgivings” and “ensuring that the Sino-US relations stay firm on a track” towards building up a new type of major nations relations, he said.
US President Barack Obama sent a letter to the two delegations, urging them to use the annual dialogue to demonstrate their commitment to stepping up cooperation even though they are facing complexities.
“We have a profound stake in each other’s success,” Kerry said. “I can tell you that we are determined to choose the path of peace and prosperity and cooperation.”
He added that the US welcomes “the emergence of a peaceful, stable, prosperous China that contributes to the stability and the development of the region, and that chooses to play a responsible role in world affairs”.