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U.S.-China Dialogue Discussed Raising Relations for 40-Year Span

June 21, 2017 (EIRNS)—Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis came out to meet the press at the conclusion of the first session of the "Diplomatic and Security Dialogue" with their Chinese counterparts. This is the revamped dialogue that had been held previously between the two countries, but under President Trump it was raised to Cabinet-level, with the aim of achieving concrete goals. While the parties will also meet for dinner, the press conference was called late afternoon at the end of the formal session. The press conference included only the senior American officials, Secretaries Tillerson and Mattis.

Tillerson struck an up-beat tone, saying that he and Mattis had been "pleased" to host the dialogue, and that President Trump was looking forward to his state visit to China later this year.

"As we’ve said before," Tillerson said,"U.S. and China relations have undergone a profound transformation over the past 40 years. These dialogues provide an opportunity to consider how we’re going to engage and how we’re going to live with one another over the next 40 years. In furthering these relations, we need to work to expand areas of cooperation, as we did today on issues where we have shared security interest."

Tillerson—and Mattis subsequently—indicated that they were still working together on the issue of North Korea, and that both parties were in agreement on the overall goal of a nuclear-free peninsula. He said that they had urged China to exert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime and were hopeful they would do so.

The Secretary notably said, "We agreed that China will help Iraq, in multiple ways, to achieve more stability and development" as it defeats ISIS. And he indicated that they had had a "frank exchange of views" on the South China Sea. While they held different views on the situation, Tillerson said that China was committed to resolve the disputes diplomatically and in accordance with international law.

Mattis said that the dialogue had been

"a unique opportunity for our nations to engage in philosophical-level discussions about how we discuss these issues, and the mutually beneficial future we can create."

Mattis indicated that DoD would plan more officer exchanges with China and develop mechanisms for more open and effective communications between the two militaries. He also noted that they would manage their differences where they exist, adding that "while competition between our nations is bound to occur, conflict is not inevitable."

Importantly, neither official placed any military option on any table regarding North Korea, although Tillerson noted that "China understands that this is the United States’ top security concern." The potential reared its head when Mattis was asked about President Trump’s Tuesday evening Tweet,

"While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi and China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!"

Mattis said that the President was simply "expressing the anger and frustration of the American people" at the D.P.R.K. (North Korean) regime.

State Councillor Yang Jiechi will remain in Washington tomorrow for discussions on Capitol Hill, and he will hold talks at the White House with National Security Adviser McMasters and presidential advisor Jared Kushner.

The days of Barack Obama pronouncing, "We make the rules. China must learn to play by the rules," are gone, replaced by mutual respect and hope for future cooperation.