Thu, Nov 06, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Kerry outlines key issues for US-China talks

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

The US-China relationship is the “most consequential” in the world today, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday.

He was speaking just hours before leaving Washington for Beijing to prepare for the APEC summit and private meetings between US President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).

“The Asia-Pacific is one of the most promising places on the planet, and America’s future and security and prosperity are closely and increasingly linked to that region,” Kerry said in a speech delivered at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.

Kerry did not mention Taiwan by name, but touched on a number of topics vital to the nation.

He said the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was a “strategic opportunity” for the US and other Pacific nations to bind together “so that we can all prosper together.”

Taiwan hopes to be part of the second round of TPP entry negotiations and is looking for US support for its entry bid.

Kerry said the US wanted to reduce tensions and promote a rules-based stable region, while at the same time “empowering people throughout the Asia-Pacific to live with dignity, security and opportunity.”

A key component of the US’ rebalance strategy was strengthening US-China relations in a way that would benefit the whole world, he said.

He called for a “principled and productive” relationship with China, while acknowledging that the two countries had different views on significant issues.

Kerry said disagreements would be addressed, but added that “these debates, frankly, don’t take place in the spotlight and much of what we say usually doesn’t end up in the headlines.”

However, he assured his audience that tough issues would be discussed at length in Beijing during Obama’s visit.

Among the issues expected to be raised in the closed-door meetings between Obama and Xi are arms sales to Taiwan.

Kerry said that maritime security, especially in the South and East China Seas, would also be discussed.

“We take a strong position on how those claims are pursued and how those disputes are going to be resolved,” Kerry said.

“We are deeply concerned about mounting tension in the South China Sea and we consistently urge all the parties to pursue claims in accordance with international law, to exercise self-restraint, to peacefully resolve disputes and to make rapid, meaningful progress to complete a code of conduct that will help reduce the potential for conflict,” he added.

Kerry said that respect for fundamental freedoms was a centerpiece of US foreign policy and the US would “never shy away from articulating our deeply held values or defending our interests, our allies and our partners.”

Internet-related issues, climate change and economics would also be discussed by the two leaders in Beijing, he said.

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