Xi Jinping, Rex Tillerson pledge cooperation over 'regional hotspots'

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the U.S. and China feel a sense of urgency about North Korea, which on Sunday tested a high-thrust rocket that it called the "new birth" of its rocket industry.

Both President Xi and Secretary Tillerson agreed there are opportunities for greater cooperation between China and the United States, but acknowledged there are, and will be in the future, differences between the two countries.

"I also appreciate your comment that the China-U.S. relationship can only be defined by cooperation and friendship".

It was unlikely the "cautious" USA military would launch a pre-emptive strike unless it could make sure it would be an absolute success, said Sun Xingjie, a professor of worldwide relations at Jilin University.

"I think we share a common view and a sense that tensions in the peninsula are quite high right now and that things have reached a rather unsafe level", Tillerson said after talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

At least in public, Tillerson adopted a far different tone than that of his boss, US President Donald Trump, instead saying that the United States looked forward to stronger ties with China.

While the U.S. State Department said Tillerson's visit was focused on efforts to get China to do more to rein in its ally North Korea, a second goal was to lay the groundwork for a possible Xi visit in April to Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

That meeting will be rife with controversial issues, which may include what to do about North Korea, Trump's complicated relationship with the "One China" policy (of the utmost importance to Beijing), and Trump's protectionism and general unpredictability on trade.

And he expressed fears poverty-struck North Korea could collapse if it were cut off completely, pushing destabilising waves of refugees into north-eastern China.

Tillerson's innocuous statement shows that the USA administration is not likely to publicly back up the harsh attacks Trump regularly lobs at China. They have been "playing" the United States for years. However, dealing with China amid threats emerging from North Korea and bitter territorial assertions could prove to be a diplomatic challenge.

The Chinese foreign ministry statement said they planned cooperation and coordination on "regional hotspots".

Relations have also been strained by China's fierce opposition to a U.S. missile defence system being rolled out in South Korea and Mr Trump's Twitter accusation on Friday that China was not doing enough to control Pyongyang, its neighbour and historic ally. There has never been real control over nuclear material under North Korea's domain since the state has never allowed inspections in its territory.

Tillerson said Trump places a "very high value on the communications that have already occurred" between Xi and Trump.

A day before the arrival of Tillerson, former Exxon Mobil chief executive, the Saudi Arabian king and his thousand-person entourage signed $65 billion worth of economic and trade deals with China.

In Beijing, Tillerson met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

So some people may feel that either Tillerson gave away too much in order to please his Chinese hosts or that he failed to articulate USA policy, perhaps because the US hasn't formulated a complete policy towards China yet. And generally, the U.S.is not ready to do that.

  • Leroy Wright