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Leaders’ talks with Kerry to broach touchy issues

Zhao Shengnan
Updated: May 13,2015 7:55 AM     China Daily

Weekend meetings to serve as prelude to annual strategic, economic dialogue scheduled for June.

Senior Chinese leaders will meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Beijing on May 16 and May 17 to prepare for key talks later this year amid renewed friction over issues from security to the South China Sea.

The annual US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, scheduled for late June in Washington, and President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States in September will be discussed, according to the website of US Department of State.

The dialogue in June are expected to focus on the challenges and opportunities that the two countries face on a wide range of economic and strategic matters. They will include State Councilor Yang Jiechi, Vice-Premier Wang Yang, US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Kerry.

Teng Jianqun, director of the Department of American Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said the weekend’s talks come at a time when the countries have achieved consensus on cooperation but the US sees growing competition.

The visit will allow both sides to address issues of primary concern and build trust, he said.

Kerry will be the most senior US official to visit China since a number of Asian and European countries, including some US allies, rushed to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

The US has publicly welcomed the bank-which some see as a challenge to US leadership in the global financial system-but has announced no plans to join.

The visit also follows statements by both the Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Defense in Beijing voicing strong objections to a Pentagon report released last week about China’s military development.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying criticized the report on May 11 for pointing a finger at China’s moves to protect territorial sovereignty and security interests in the South China Sea.

After visiting Beijing, Kerry will travel to Seoul to meet President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea, who is expected to visit the US in June.

Tensions were heightened on the Korean Peninsula after state media in Pyongyang announced last week that the country had successfully test-launched a ballistic missile from a submarine.

Teng said Washington has not given the peninsula’s nuclear issue enough importance and said Chinese and US leaders should have serious discussions about it during the upcoming summit.

Kerry will stop in Seattle on May 19 to deliver a speech on trade policy, including the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, which does not include China. Washington hopes to see the deal finalized this year.

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