United States, China had ‘very frank discussion’ on West PHL Sea issue

“As expected, our dialogue over the last two and a half days included a very frank discussion of some issues on which we have not always seen eye to eye, and that is, frankly, a sign of a mature and good working relationship,” United States Secretary of State Secretary John Kerry said in his closing statement for US-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue and Consultation on People-to-People Exchange.

US-China S&D Dialogue is an annual high-level dialogue for the United States and China to discuss a wide range of regional and global strategic and economic issues between both countries. This year’s S&D was held June 23-24 in Washington, DC.

Among the topics US and China differ in principles that were discussed were cyber security and cyber theft, universal human rights and freedoms. “I raised our concerns regarding the pending legislation in China that might seriously undermine the ability of nongovernmental organizations and civil society to continue work that is critical to everything from protecting the environment to advancing rule of law to deepening cultural and academic ties between our countries,” Kerry said.

“We also discussed the rise in tension between China and many of its neighbors regarding reclamation and possible militarizing activities in the South China Sea,” the US State Secretary said.

He noted that US does not take sides on territorial disputes and question of sovereignty, however, “we do have a strong national interest in freedom of navigation and overflight as well as peaceful resolution of disputes.”

“We believe that countries with competing claims should exercise restraint, refrain from preventative unilateral actions, and settle their differences in accordance with international law.”

Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, Secretary Kerry’s counterpart in the said dialogue, said “China reaffirmed its firm determination to safeguard territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, as well as continued commitment to seeking peaceful solutions to the relevant disputes through dialogue and negotiation with those directly concerned.”

The Chinese official added that China would work with ASEAN countries to advance the consultation on Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.