China, US to hold first diplomatic, security dialogue

By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/19 23:33:39

The first Sino-US diplomatic and security dialogue (DSD) will be essential for them to manage and resolve disputes by increasing mutual trust and seeking a consensus, as differences continue to define the two countries' security relationship, Chinese experts said.

China and the US will hold their first diplomatic and security dialogue on Wednesday in Washington, DC. Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis will co-chair the dialogue, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at a daily press briefing on Friday.

General Fang Fenghui, a member of China's Central Military Commission (CMC) and chief of the CMC Joint Staff Department, will also participate in the dialogue. The two sides will exchange views on China-US relations and other issues of common concern, Lu said.

"To some extent, this dialogue is similar to the 2+2 dialogue (Foreign Minister + Defense Minister) between the US and its allies," Tao Wenzhao, senior research fellow at the Institute of American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Tao said that, compared to economic and trade relations, security or military relations between China and the US have lagged behind, so the dialogue can be considered a "breakthrough" in bilateral security ties.

The diplomatic and security dialogue is one of four high-level mechanisms established during the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida in April. The other three are dialogues on economics, law enforcement and cyber security, and on social, cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

Lingering differences

However, China is not a US ally, so the dialogue differs from the 2+2 dialogues, An Gang, a member of the academic committee of Beijing-based think tank Pangoal Institute, said.

"Frankly, differences and contradictions between China and the US continue to prevail over cooperation and consensus. China and the US treat each other as strategic rivals, and both militaries treat each other as an imaginary enemy," An said.

"The Chinese military also treats the US military as the biggest external obstruction to realizing the country's unification," An added.

"Southeast Asian countries like the Philippines and Vietnam have decided to settle their disputes in the South China Sea and have normalized ties with China. But it seems the US doesn't want to see the easing of tensions, and continues to send its naval vessels to provoke China in the region, Peng Guangqian, a retired major general and military expert at the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Academy of Military Science, told the Global Times.

Defense ministry spokesperson Ren Guoqiang said at a press conference in May  that the USS Dewey guided missile destroyer entered waters near reefs that form part of China's Nansha Islands, and the PLA navy's Luzhou and Liuzhou missile frigates identified the US vessel and drove the destroyer from the area.

"Joint efforts by China and ASEAN member states have stabilized the situation in the South China Sea, but US behavior will complicate the situation. We demand that the US correct its mistakes," Ren stressed, adding that the US will prompt the Chinese military to further strengthen its ability to protect the country's sovereignty and security.

Shared interests

Because differences remain, the dialogue will be crucial for both sides to manage and control their differences and help keep Sino-US relations stable, An said.

"China and the US also have shared interests in many non-traditional security areas, such as counterterrorism, anti-transnational crime and cyber security, so the dialogue will increase consensus and reduce miscalculations to make problem solving possible," An added.

After the Mar-a-Lago meeting, the Trump administration expected China to help the US solve the Korean Peninsula nuclear crisis. But on June 14, Tillerson said that the US wants China to do more to pressure North Korea, and that the US might consider imposing sanctions on Chinese companies which conduct trade with North Korea if China refuses to cut basic supplies, like oil.

"The US shouldn't expect China to do everything on the issue because China's efforts, including sanctions against North Korea, is not enough to solve the crisis," Shi Yinhong, director of the Center for American Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times.

The US should understand that we are trying to create conditions for a US-North Korea dialogue rather than making North Korea collapse, so the US also needs to contribute rather than expecting China to do everything, Shi said.

Posted in: DIPLOMACY

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