China and the US sought to stabilise relations as their officials meet in Beijing after a widening rift over military and trade disputes.
On Monday, a top Communist Party official greeted President Barack Obama’s advisers with the words that relations were ‘back on a sound track’. China’s foreign minister Yang Jiechi said he hoped for ‘positive outcomes’ from the meeting.
Both sides are meeting just over a month after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton angered Beijing by suggesting that resolution of territorial claims in the South China Sea was a matter of US 'national interest' and it should be settled by a multilateral approach.
“Although there were some disturbances in China-US relations, in April and May after President Obama and President Hu Jintao had two meetings, our relations have gotten back on a sound track,” said Li Yuanchao, who heads the Communist Party’s organisation department.
Larry Summers, a director of the National Economic Council, and deputy national security adviser Tom Donilon lead the US delegation. The US delegation is expected to try and defuse military tensions, that worsened after joint drills with South Korea, and also press Beijing to allow its currency, the renminbi, to appreciate further and faster.
“Continuing to develop a positive and comprehensive China-US relationship contributes to our major interests in peace, security and development for our two countries, the region and the world at large,’’ said foreign minister Yang Jiechi.
While diplomats made conciliatory remarks, the state-run media ran an editorial calling for the development of a Chinese ‘carrier killer’ anti-ship ballistic missile. “While developing its anti-ship missile capacity, China should also let Westerners know under what circumstances will such weaponry be used,’’ said the Global Times.
“China should not only build its anti-ship missile capacity, but also possess a range of carrier-destroying measures as well,’’ it said. “Since US aircraft carrier battle groups in the Pacific constitute deterrence against China's strategic interests, China has to possess the capacity to counterbalance.”
“We can't expect bilateral relations to be smooth forever,’’ analyst Wang Yizhou at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told the Global Times. “When ties deteriorate, we shall not be overly pessimistic; when they improve, we shall not be overly optimistic.”
Former US President Jimmy Carter is also on a China visit and met Premier Wen Jiabao on Monday.