The US on Monday called for “candour and openness” ahead of NSA-level talks with China in Beijing, the first such high-level political dialogue since an international tribunal rejected Beijing’s expansive claims over the strategic South China Sea.
US National Security Advisor Susan Rice began her visit in Beijing by holding talks with her counterpart Yang Jiechi after China’s outright rejection of the tribunal, questioning its legality.
Welcoming Rice, Yang said ahead of their talks that the US and China have been cooperating more closely on global issues such as nuclear nonproliferation and the Ebola epidemic and both sides should carefully manage their differences. Acknowledging that US and China faced other “global issues and challenges”, Rice said “to the extent that we are able to surface those challenges in candour and openness, I’m confident that we will be able to work on them as we have many others in the past”.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on July 12 noted there was no legal basis for Beijing’s claim to nearly all of the waterway. While quashing China’s claims, it also upheld the Philippines’ rights over the area. China claims sovereignty over almost all of the South China Sea. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan seriously differ with Beijing’s claims and accuse China of illegally reclaiming land in contested areas to create artificial islands with facilities that could potentially be for military use.
On July 15, Yang said the sovereignty issue is China’s bottom line.