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Upbeat tone marks Wang, Tillerson talk

Zhang Yunbi
Updated: Feb 18,2017 7:07 AM     China Daily

Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meet on the sidelines of a gathering of foreign ministers of the G20 leading and developing economies at the World Conference Center in Bonn, Germany, on Feb 17.[China News Service]

The first meeting between Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Feb 17 ended with an upbeat tone, which observers said will help clarify the US policy toward China and boost collaboration between the two countries on major bilateral and international affairs.

Beijing is ready to “strengthen communication, boost mutual trust, manage and control differences and deepen cooperation” with Washington, Wang told Tillerson as they met on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Bonn, Germany. It was the first high-level official meeting between the two countries since President Donald Trump took office.

The goal is to “achieve a greater development of China-US ties” during Trump’s presidency, Wang said.

Tillerson said that only friendship could define the relationship, and the two countries will maintain and improve dialogue and cooperation in such areas as the economy, finance and security, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The media and many experts have paid attention to the talk since Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil, told his Senate confirmation hearing that the US should block China’s access to islands in the South China Sea.

On Feb 17, Tillerson also reassured Wang on the one-China policy.

During a phone call earlier this month, Trump told President Xi Jinping the new US administration honors the one-China policy, and they both envisioned a better development of the ties from a new starting point.

Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said “the talks further clarified the new US administration’s China policies”, and Tillerson’s reaffirming the one-China policy helps dismiss widespread doubts over the bilateral ties.

Ruan said many international issues, including the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and Syria, need renewed coordination between China and the US.

Wu Xinbo, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said the meeting was pragmatic and indicates that key mechanisms, such as the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue, will continue in previous or similar forms.

Zuo Xiying, a research fellow at the National Academy of Development and Strategy at Renmin University of China, said the two countries can strengthen, and even create, mechanisms for exchanging views on strategies and policies.

Wang also met with his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, on Feb 17 and warned him over “negative moves taken by Tokyo recently over major sensitive issues”.

Earlier this month, Tokyo asked the Trump administration for, and was given, reassurance that China’s Diaoyu Islands are covered by the security umbrella of a US-Japan defense treaty.