China’s president warns against unresolved Sino-US tensions

Confrontation would be disastrous, Xi Jinping says in Beijing

US secretary of state John Kerry and China’s president Xi Jinping at the opening  of high-level bilateral talks in Beijing yesterday. Photograph: Feng Li/Getty Images

US secretary of state John Kerry and China’s president Xi Jinping at the opening of high-level bilateral talks in Beijing yesterday. Photograph: Feng Li/Getty Images

Thu, Jul 10, 2014, 18:16

China’s president Xi Jinping has warned of disastrous consequences if China and the United States fail to resolve growing tensions between them, as the world’s two biggest economies held an annual round of talks.

“Sino-US co-operation will achieve things that are beneficial to both countries and the world, while confrontation would surely be disastrous for both China and the US, and for the world,” Mr Xi told the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the sixth round of high- level bilateral talks, in Beijing.

Topics discussed during the talks at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse included North Korea’s nuclear programme, reforms to the yuan’s exchange rate mechanism and China’s territorial disputes.

China has been critical of US efforts to increase its influence in Asia, the so-called “Asia Pivot”, which Beijing believes is aimed at undermining China’s growing power in the region.

It is particularly angry with the US for taking the side of Japan and Philippines in China’s various maritime territorial disputes in the South and East China seas.

China and the US should look at the bigger picture and strengthen ties, Mr Xi said, both for their own sake and also for the world’s, the Xinhua news agency reported.

“How China and the US perceive each other’s strategic intentions will have a direct bearing on the policies they adopt and the development of bilateral relations,” he said.

Mr Xi said he expected to hold talks with his US counterpart Barack Obama when the president visits China to attend the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in November.

The US side was represented by secretary of state John Kerry, who described the dialogue at the talks as “excellent”.

He insisted that differences over individual issues must not be interpreted as an “overall US strategy” because “the US does not seek to contain China” and he quoted Mr Obama’s comments that the US wanted a “strong, prosperous and stable” China.

“I can tell you that we are determined to choose the path of peace and prosperity and co-operation, and yes, even competition, but not conflict,” he said.

The two sides did appear to find common ground on North Korea’s nuclear programme. While China is the North’s traditional ally, a distance has grown between the two over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.