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China, US narrow differences over South China Sea

Reporter: Han Peng 丨 CCTV.com

06-08-2016 06:40 BJT

Full coverage: 8th China-U.S. S&ED & 7th CPE

Full coverage: South China Sea Is Indisputable Part of China

The eighth round of Sino-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue has wrapped up in Beijing.  Officials from both countries say the two-day talks have narrowed the differences between the world's two biggest economies and reduced the risks of miscalculation. One important progress is on the South China Sea.

Tensions over South China Sea remain one of the biggest disagreements at the Sino-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Both countries reaffirmed their positions, but Washington has slightly softened its tone.

"The US will make it clear that we are looking for a peaceful resolution to the disputes of the South China Sea...We urged all nations to find a diplomatic solution... in rule of law," US Secretary of State John Kerry, said.

Kerry's latest remarks comes despite the US military's tough words towards China. Last Friday, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter warned that China's actions could "erect a Great Wall of self-isolation".

The remarks were met with cautious welcome from Chinese officials.

"We hope that the United States can honor its pledge that it does not take side in the disputes in the South China Sea," Chinese state councilor Yang Jiechi said.

Despite the differences, both sides spoke highly of their newly expanded common ground, referring to their recent cooperation in nuclear issues with Iran and the Korean Peninsula, and reaching the historic Paris agreement on fighting climate change.

China says they are good examples of building a new type of major power relations, which is aimed at avoiding conflict between a rising power of China and a resident power of the United States.

"Thanks to our concerted efforts, our two countries have cooperated at bilateral, regional and global levels in a wide range of areas, and registered new programmes in our relations. We witnessed record highs in trade and two-way investment, enjoyed closer people-to-people and sub-national exchanges, and made new headway in cooperation in cyberspace, law enforcement and military exchanges," President Xi Jinping said.

Running parallel to the S&ED, was the High-level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange. John Kerry greeted the sports teams of Chinese universities, accompanied by Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong.

Kerry said people-to-people exchanges should go without governmental intervention, and raised concerns over China's new law on non-governmental organizations, which strengthened government supervision.

Liu rejected the remarks, saying the law is only aimed at improving the playing field for civil society, and that the NGOs which follow the law can continue to operate freely in China.

Officials from both countries say although they cannot reach agreement on every single issue, the Dialogue is important in narrowing the differences and expanding common ground. They say that keeping close communication is vital in avoiding serious miscalculation and building trust in the world's most consequential bilateral relations.

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