China, US divided over Syria, sea dispute, but vow goodwill

Chinese President Hu Jintao meets US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on 5 September 2012.

Chinese President Hu Jintao meets US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on 5 September 2012. CNS/Feng Li/China

By Andrew Quinn | Reuters

BEIJING, China, 5 September 2012

China and the United States were divided on Wednesday over how to end the bloodshed in Syria and defuse tension in the South China Sea and other global troublespots, but stressed hope for steady ties as they navigate political transitions at home.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi vowed goodwill after talks which had been preceded by criticism from Beijing of Clinton’s calls for a multilateral solution to the territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas.

Clinton told reporters that such disagreements did not have to hobble cooperation.

“I’m very proud of the strength and resilience that we have built into our relationship,” she said after talks with Yang in the cavernous Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

“It makes it possible for us to talk about anything, and to find ways to tackle issues frankly and forthrightly,” Clinton said, adding that the two sides would not see eye-to-eye on all the issues that are part of their vast relationship.

Yang also cast relations in a positive light, saying both sides could work together as long as “mutual respect for each other’s core interests and major concerns” continues.

“History and facts have repeatedly proven that China and the United States have interwoven interests,” said Yang.

The remarks underscored efforts by both sides to contain quarrels, especially as they focus on domestic politics. China’s Communist Party is preoccupied with a once-in-a-decade leadership over coming months, while US President Barack Obama is focused on a re-election fight culminating in November.

Clinton praised China for helping to apply pressure on Iran over its nuclear activities, and Yang sounded a moderating note on Syria by balancing opposition to outside intervention with support for a “political transition.

“China is willing to maintain and strengthen dialogue, communication and coordination with the US,” Chinese President Hu Jintao told Clinton, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website.

“Maintaining stable development of Sino-US economic and trade ties has an important impact on the two countries, as well as the revival and growth of the world economy.”

Neither side gave ground on the South China Sea disputes, which have emerged as a persistent irritant, reflecting suspicions in Beijing that the Obama administration is seeking to curb Chinese influence.

China’s claims over much of the South China Sea, including the Spratly and Paracel islands, have put it at loggerheads with Vietnam, the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations. A similar dispute has set China against Japan in the East

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