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State Doubts ‘Constructive’ China Meeting, But Admits Openings

June 20, 2020 (EIRNS)—Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell gave an on-the-record briefing on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s meeting with Chinese Poliburo Member Yang Jiechi on Thursday afternoon, in which Stillwell participated. Like Pompeo in an interview with Anders Rasmussen June 19, Stillwell did not use the word “constructive” about those talks; nonetheless, certain global realities are pressing them on.

“Overall, given all the current circumstances with the relationship, the P.R.C. side could not be described as really forthcoming in the areas the U.S. raised,” Stillwell said. He cited Hong Kong, South China Sea, trilateral nuclear talks with Russia and the U.S., North Korea, reciprocity over journalists, trade, coronavirus, etc. He called the Chinese Foreign Ministry readout on the meeting “fairly typical with what we’ve been seeing in this wolf warrior environment—very shrill, one-sided, sometimes not realistic, and all the rest.”

Claiming that the Group of Seven (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S.), and therefore of course the whole world, backs U.S. demands on China, Stillwell said, “We have to have actions. I’m not going to go into detail on exactly what was discussed, but whether or not they were productive or not, I will look at what comes up in the next couple of weeks: Do we see a reduction in aggressive behavior or not? If we have words of peace but we have aggressive actions, then were going to have to increase the pressure to manage that....

“I would expect that you would see the Chinese side taking action that comports with the discussions we had. I’m not saying there was agreement, but we made very clear our position, so we’ll see in the next week or two or however long it takes if they begin to live up to their commitments.”

Stillwell described “the overall relationship as intense.”

North Korea, meanwhile, was reported to now be moving military forces toward the inter-Korean border, in a situation with a potential for war between a nuclear power and a non-nuclear power, and thus involving the United States.

Stillwell said of this, that

“The opportunities for cooperative behavior with P.R.C. of late seem to be fewer and fewer. But there are areas of obvious cooperation, and North Korea seems to be the obvious one; and if the U.S. and China can both work together on this, it seems that North Korea would understand the importance and the need to get back to the table and discuss their nuclear program.... There are areas where cooperation is entirely possible. It was an area, especially as I mentioned earlier, we’ll see if we made our points very clear. They made theirs. There wasn’t a lot of dispute. I think it’s going to come down to how it’s executed. And as for the rest, I’ll leave it to the Deputy Secretary Steve Biegun, who is—he owns the North Korea portfolio.”

And on trade: “On commitments, I’ll point to trade, as I mentioned earlier, that there was a very clear commitment to following through on the Phase 1 trade agreement. So that seems to be an effort to get that credibility back, where we committed to do it, we actually did it, and therefore the credibility is building.”

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