If secretary of state John Kerry’s brief news conference was anything to go by, the US-China strategic dialogue ended on Tuesday without much to show as a breakthrough in a bilateral relationship fraught with challenges.
The news conference is learnt to have lasted for 20 minutes. Earlier, discussions between top officials of the two countries broadly focussed on the situation in North Korea, maritime disputes in the South China Sea where US allies have competing claims with China and the crisis in West Asia.
There was no indication that officials discussed India’s bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), which has been doggedly stalled by China on the ground that India cannot be part of the club because it is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
China has repeated its reasons for blocking India’s entry to the NSG: “The NSG is an important component of the non- proliferation regime founded on the NPT. This is a long-term consensus of the international community which was reaffirmed last year by the NPT review convention," foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said last month.
“That is why the NSG has been taking NPT signatory status must status for new members,” Hua said.
The dialogue between China and the US itself was straightforward.
The tone was set when Kerry said on Monday that territorial conflicts in the South China Sea must not be resolved “by unilateral action”. He said: “Let's resolve this through rule of law, through diplomacy, through negotiation.”
Chinese state media said on Tuesday that the US-China dialogue is aimed at “more concrete cooperation”.
“China and the United States are working together to build a new type of major power relationship in accordance with the consensus reached by their leaders,” Chinese vice premier Liu Yandong told the opening ceremony for the eighth China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue and the seventh China-US High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange in Beijing.
According to state media, Liu said she “expected the two parties to establish more platforms for people-to-people exchanges on education, science, culture, health and other fields so as to root belief in mutual respect and benefit deeply in the mind of the Chinese and American people”.
It added, “China looks forward to communication with the United States over issues on macroeconomic policies, a bilateral investment treaty, global economic governance, finance, climate change and province-to-state cooperation.”