US presses China to halt militarization of South China Sea, drawing rebuke from Beijing

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US presses China to halt militarization of South China Sea, drawing rebuke from Beijing

In a statement on Saturday, China’s Foreign Ministry described the talks as “frank, constructive and very fruitful.”

Responding sharply to Pompeo’s mention of Taiwan, which China considers a wayward province but which is armed by Washington, Wei said Beijing would defend its claim on the island “at any cost.”

But Wei and Mattis agreed on the need to lower U.S.-China military tensions to avoid unintended clashes, with the Chinese general saying confrontation “will spell disaster to all.” Washington has protested to Beijing about recent behavior by its warships that the U.S. Navy considered unsafe.

While Pompeo spoke little about trade in his public comments, Yang said he hoped the two sides would find a mutually acceptable solution on the issue “before long.”

China and the United States have slapped tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other’s goods, jolting global financial markets, and Trump has threatened to set tariffs on the remainder of China’s $500 billion-plus exports to the United States if the trade dispute cannot be resolved.

Trump’s administration has also accused China of meddling in U.S. politics ahead of this week’s congressional elections, charges China strongly denies.

Reflecting growing U.S. concerns about the Chinese cyber threat, a senior U.S. intelligence official on Thursday accused China of violating a 2015 agreement aimed at stopping cyber espionage through the hacking of government and corporate data.

Pompeo also reiterated U.S. criticism of China’s “repression of religious groups,” citing treatment of Buddhists in Tibet and minority Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region that has drawn condemnation from human rights groups.

Yang defended China’s policies in Xinjiang as measures against “ethnic separatist activities and violent terrorist crimes” but said it was a Chinese internal affair and foreign governments should not interfere.

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