A meeting of top U.S. and Chinese diplomats got off to a frosty start on Monday, with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi airing grievances amid worsening bilateral relations.
While the exchange included typical diplomatic pleasantries, and the two officials emphasized the need for cooperation, their remarks before journalists at the start of their meeting at Beijing’s Diaoyutai Guest House were unusually pointed.
“Recently, as the U.S. side has been constantly escalating trade friction toward China, it has also adopted a series of actions on the Taiwan issue that harm China’s rights, and has made groundless criticism of China’s domestic and foreign policies,” Wang said at the joint appearance with Pompeo.
“We believe this has been a direct attack on our mutual trust, and has cast a shadow on China-U.S. relations,” Wang said.
“We demand that the U.S. side stop this kind of mistaken action,” he said.
Pompeo, who was briefing Wang following his visit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said, “The issues that you characterized we have a fundamental disagreement [with].”
“We have great concerns about the actions that China has taken, and I look forward to having the opportunity to discuss each of those today because this is an incredibly important relationship.”
A senior U.S. State Department official said the United States still expected cooperation with Beijing on efforts to denuclearize North Korea, whose chief ally is China.
“I would certainly expect so,” the official said. “That’s a very important issue and they recognize that and accept that and realize that.”
Pompeo and Wang openly disagreed over which side had called off a bilateral security dialogue that had been due to take place in Beijing this month.
Last week Vice President Mike Pence stepped up the U.S. pressure campaign against Beijing, going beyond the trade war by accusing China of both “malign” efforts to undermine President Donald Trump ahead of next month’s congressional elections and of reckless military action in the South China Sea.