Ahead of Biden-Xi meet, US, China hold discussions on South China Sea : The Tribune India

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Ahead of Biden-Xi meet, US, China hold discussions on South China Sea

Ahead of Biden-Xi meet, US, China hold discussions on South China Sea


Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 4

As part of the West’s efforts to avoid opening a third front in addition to the Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas conflicts, America’s China policy chief met Beijing’s top border official for talks on the situation in the South China Sea and East China Sea. On Saturday, Australian PM Anthony Albanese arrived for talks with the Chinese leadership that could see Beijing ease some of the restrictions on imports from Canberra.

The US Department of State’s China Coordinator Mark Lambert held “substantive, constructive and candid discussions” on a range of maritime issues with Chinese Foreign Office’s DG for Boundary and Ocean Affairs Hong Liang in Beijing, said a US Government statement. China said the discussions were “in-depth, constructive and candid,” with both sides agreeing to manage the maritime situation to avoid miscalculation and misunderstanding, while also exploring the possibility of cooperation.

Translated, the terminology used by the US and China indicates that neither side budged from its position and countered the points made by the other side. Still, it was an exercise to create a conducive environment before US President Joe Biden meets Chinese President Xi Jinping in San Francisco.

Of the three powers taking on the US — Russia, Iran and China — the Biden administration has dialled down its rhetoric against Beijing with a series of high-level contacts including the Foreign Ministers. At the first meeting on maritime issues after a long time, the US reiterated the need to resume military-military channels, including between operators, to avoid miscommunication and miscalculation.

Tensions in South China Sea are on the boil after the Chinese navy obstructed a Philippine flotilla supplying provisions to a deliberately-grounded ship near the Second Thomas Shoal and its fighter cake dangerously close to a US spy plane.

Beijing tried to turn the tables on the US by expressing “serious concerns” over its US military presence in the region and frequent reconnaissance missions targeting China.

Lowering the rhetoric

Of the three powers taking on the US — Russia, Iran and China — the Biden administration has dialled down its rhetoric against Beijing with a series of high-level contacts, including the Foreign Ministers

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