U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo faced a testy exchange with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing yesterday, days after a blistering U.S. denunciation of the Asian power's global and domestic policies.
Pompeo and Foreign Minister Wang Yi highlighted the schism after the chief U.S. diplomat arrived in Beijing on the final leg of an Asian trip focused on North Korea's nuclear issue.
Meeting at the Diaoyutai Guest House, Wang told Pompeo that the U.S. has "stepped up rhetoric over trade tensions" after a raft of tit-for-tat tariffs on billions of dollars in U.S. and Chinese goods. He also accused the United States of making "a series of moves" on Taiwan and "other issues" that hurt Chinese sovereignty. "These actions have affected the mutual trust between both sides, and has cast a shadow over the prospect of China-U.S. relations, which completely go against the interest of our two peoples," Wang said. "We require that the U.S. stop such misguided actions," he said, adding that the two countries should pursue cooperation "and not descend into conflict and confrontation."
The polite but edgy tone underscored the plunge in U.S.-Chinese relations as the administration of President Donald Trump confronts Beijing over its technology policies and territorial claims in the South China Sea. Trump also approved a weapons sale to Taiwan, the self-ruled island the Communist mainland claims as its own territory, and sanctioned a Chinese company and its leader over an arms purchase from Russia.
The two diplomats had warmer words regarding efforts to curb North Korea's nuclear ambitions. China has backed United Nations sanctions on its Cold War-era ally, though it recently called for them to be eased. Wang said the North Korean issue shows that Beijing and Washington "can and should increase communication and cooperation."
Pompeo said he expected to have "good, candid, frank conversations" with Wang about his meeting Sunday with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang. But unlike his last visit to Beijing in June, Pompeo did not have a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
He met with senior Communist Party foreign affairs official Yang Jiechi, who recalled that Beijing has lodged official protests with the United States to express its "dissatisfaction" over a series of U.S. actions. "China and U.S. relations are at an important juncture and facing challenges," Yang said. "We hope the U.S. and China will be on the same page."
Pompeo replied that it was "important that we listen to each other, work through and find constructive solutions so we can find a good outcome for both our countries." He later headed to the airport to return to Washington.