Sat, Sep 26, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Obama, Xi hold sensitive, closed-door talks prior to start of official visit

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter, in Washington

Demonstrators with Chinese and United States national flags gather at sunset in Washington, DC, USA, on Thursday.

Photo: EPA

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) held sensitive closed-door talks — which were expected to include Taiwan — with US President Barack Obama in the White House on Thursday evening.

The two leaders met in the Oval Office and later had a private dinner joined by US Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

Xi and his wife were to be formally welcomed to the White House for an official state visit yesterday, but sources said that the most contentious and difficult issues in the US-China relationship were to be discussed during the more relaxed Thursday session.

“While formal meetings where each side recites carefully worded talking points and a long list of issues are important, the unscripted [Thursday] meal has the potential to allow the two leaders to break through on the most nettlesome issues,” the New York Times said yesterday.

Along with Taiwan, they were expected to address cybersecurity, island-building in the South China Sea, intellectual property protections and human rights.

Xi and his team flew into the US capital from a 48-hour stay in Seattle, where they toured a Boeing plant, visited Microsoft and dropped by local schools.

Speaking at the Heritage Foundation shortly before Xi landed in Washington, US Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia Chairman Cory Gardner said that Taiwan should be part of the solution to national security concerns in East Asia.

“Maritime security issues and international cooperation will be a part and a piece of the solution and while I have mentioned the relationship between the US and Japan and South Korea as a tri-national alliance, Taiwan is very much a part of that solution as well,” he said.

Earlier, Gardner said that Beijing’s regional policy had taken a destabilizing, aggressive and troubling turn and that its actions in the East and South China seas were contrary to international law.

He said they imposed an increased risk of future conflict.

“The US must have a consistent and assertive diplomatic engagement with China to reinforce that these rogue activities fall outside of accepted international norms,” said Gardner.

“This is also where we must work with our strongest allies in the region,” he added. “A strong and reinvigorated trilateral alliance within the region — US, South Korea and Japan — should be united as one force for freedom and prosperity. Strengthening this relationship will send a strong message to China that great nations with the same values and principles speak with one voice,” he said.

Evan Moore, an analyst for the Foreign Policy Initiative think tank, said that Xi’s visit came “in the midst of an extraordinarily contentious period in US-China relations.”

He said that Chinese hackers had stolen the personal data of more than 20 million former and current US federal employees; the Chinese armed forces were building extensive military facilities in the South China Sea; China was using torture and imprisonment to suppress dissent; and the instability of the Chinese economy was causing trouble across the globe.

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