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Kor Kian Beng
Thursday, Sep 11, 2014

World

Rice calls on China State Councillor

The Straits Times | Kor Kian Beng | Thursday, Sep 11, 2014

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice (L) meeting Deputy Chairman of China's Central Military Commission Fan Changlong (R) at the Bayi Building in Beijing September 9, 2014. Ms Rice's trip comes amid another flare-up in the Sino-US relationship, which has been troubled by mutual cyber-espionage allegations and China's territorial disputes with its neighbours.

BEIJING - United States President Barack Obama is looking forward to having "another very important round of bilateral discussions" with President Xi Jinping in Beijing, National Security Adviser Susan Rice said.

"He views this visit as an important milestone in the development of our important relationship," a US Embassy statement quoted Ms Rice as telling State Councillor Yang Jiechi during their meeting yesterday. The former US envoy to the United Nations is making her first visit here since taking up her current post in July last year.

Ms Rice told Mr Yang that "the President asked me to travel here, even as there are many other issues on our shared global agenda, because of the priority he attaches to US-China relations".

Both officials discussed bilateral and global issues on top of preparations for the two presidents' second informal summit, which is set to take place right after the Apec leaders' summit that Beijing is hosting in November. The first informal summit took place in June last year in California where the two leaders reportedly agreed to build a "new type of major-power relationship" that maximises cooperation and avoids confrontation.

But Ms Rice's trip, which ends today, comes amid another flare-up in the Sino-US relationship, which has been troubled by mutual cyber-espionage allegations and China's territorial disputes with its neighbours.

Last month, Washington accused a Chinese fighter jet of conducting "dangerous intercepts" of a US surveillance plane in an incident about 220km off the coast of Hainan island.

Beijing charged that intel-gathering was illegal in what it deems as its territorial waters and also warned Washington that its surveillance near Chinese borders was damaging relations and could lead to "undesirable accidents". But the US insisted its plane was in international waters.

Mr Obama's comment last month describing China as a "free rider" in Iraq for the past 30 years and blaming it for not undertaking more international obligations also sparked rebuttals.

Chinese state media pointed out how China's post-war reconstruction efforts in Iraq "helped stabilise the turmoil-hit country".

A Xinhua commentary last Thursday said Mr Obama was "jeopardising years of US efforts to hone ties with China" and urged Ms Rice to "sort out sense and sensibility for the US leader" so as to build a truly stable major-country relationship.

Yesterday, Mr Yang told Ms Rice that the bilateral relationship "has maintained overall stability and made progress with both sides' efforts" in areas such as economics and trade, counter-terrorism, energy, environment protection and other fields, Xinhua reported. Today, Ms Rice will meet other leaders, possibly Mr Xi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

kianbeng@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on September 9, 2014.
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