Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi aired their grievances in the open on Monday during a brief visit to Beijing by Washington’s top diplomat amid worsening relations between their two countries.
While the exchange included typical diplomatic pleasantries, and the two officials emphasized the need for cooperation, their remarks before journalists at the start of their meeting at Beijing’s Diaoyutai State Guest House were unusually pointed.
Wang made no secret of Beijing’s frustration with Donald Trump’s wide-reaching tariffs on Chinese goods. And he hinted at the communist country’s irritation at Trump’s election interference charges and long-running disputes over the South China sea.
‘Recently, as the U.S. side has been constantly escalating trade friction toward China, it has also adopted a series of actions on the Taiwan issue that harm China’s rights and interests, and has made groundless criticism of China’s domestic and foreign policies,’ Wang said at a joint appearance with Pompeo.
‘We believe this has been a direct attack on our mutual trust, and has cast a shadow on China-U.S. relations,’ he added. ‘We demand that the U.S. side stop this kind of mistaken action.’
IF WE MUST: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi aired their grievances in the open on Monday during a brief visit to Beijing by Washington’s top diplomat amid worsening relations between their two countries
Pompeo, who was briefing Wang following his visit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, told Wang ‘we have a fundamental disagreement’ on key issues
Wang also urged the United States to stop selling arms to Taiwan and to cut off official visits and military ties with the self-ruled island Beijing claims as its own, according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement.
Pompeo, who was briefing Wang following his visit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said, ‘The issues that you characterized, we have a fundamental disagreement.
‘We have grave concerns about the actions that China has taken, and I look forward to having the opportunity to discuss each of those today because this is an incredibly important relationship.’
Pompeo and Wang openly disagreed over which side had called off a two-way security dialogue that had been planned in Beijing this month during the stopover on the way back from North Korea.
The U.S. secretary of state later downplayed the friction in a tweet that cast them as ‘productive meetings in Beijing today’ that furthered the United States’ goal of ‘constructive, results-oriented relationship with China.’
Pompeo said that President Trump ‘has made clear — we want a relationship where our prosperity and security grow together, not apart.’
Beijing was already on thin ice with Trump prior to the trip for alleged intellectual property theft and unfair trading practices he’s tried to even out with some $250 billion in tariffs on Chinese exports.
Trump has also accused China of election meddling that the U.S. president says was intended to hurt him.
He hit China with the accusation at a U.N. Security Council meeting, where Wang sat three seats away. His administration has pointed to advertisements in U.S. newspapers paid for Chinese state media deriding his tariffs when asked for examples of the mid-term interference.
Wang told Trump and other members of the security council, of which it is a permanent member like the U.S., that China has and will continue to stay out of foreign nations’ domestic affairs.
Last week, Vice President Mike Pence stepped up the U.S. pressure campaign against Beijing, going beyond the trade war by accusing China of both ‘malign’ efforts to undermine Trump ahead of next month’s congressional elections. He also accused Beijing of reckless military action in the South China Sea.
Pompeo did not bring up those charges as he spoke to reporters alongside Wang. He hinted that they could talk privately about ad buys earlier, though in remarks to his traveling press.
‘We’ll explore all the places we’re working well together and all the concerns that each country has,’ he said in response to a question about the United States’ unhappiness with the level of assistance that China is providing in nuclear talks with North Korea.
Pompeo did not have a scheduled meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, a fact that a senior U.S. State Department official on the trip said was not strange, even though top U.S. officials often meet Chinese heads of state on visits.
It was especially odd after Pompeo wished Xi a happy birthday when the two met on a trip to Beijing in June.
The senior U.S. official said the United States still expected cooperation with Beijing on efforts to denuclearize North Korea, whose chief ally is China.
‘I would certainly expect so,’ the official said. ‘That’s a very important issue, and they recognise that, and accept that, and realize that.’
If ties between the two countries continued to deteriorate, there could be ‘profound changes’ in the strategic environment for such regional issues as North Korea, China’s state-backed Global Times tabloid warned in an editorial.
‘For Asia, the severity of China-U.S. frictions is taking up much attention and is, to some extent, diluting attention paid to the Korean peninsula issue,’ it said.
Pompeo told Wang that he stopped by Beijing on his way back from trip to Pyongyang ‘to make sure that we are working together on our joint mission that we’ve talked about before: the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
‘So I know we’ll have good, candid, frank conversations with respect to that issue and the broader set of relations between our two countries,’ he said.
In an open affront to Wang he told him in front of press: ‘I regret that the Strategic Dialogue between our two countries was something that you all chose not to undertake. It would have been an important opportunity for us to have a discussion about these longer-term, important issues that present opportunities for the people of our two countries.’
A read-out of the meeting provided by State Department Press Secretary Heather Nauert said that human rights and the South China sea were specific topics of discussion. The also ‘reafirmed their shared resolve’ to Korean Penninsula’s denuclearization.
‘The United States and China remain unified on our pressure campaign,’ Nauert said, ‘and are committed to a bright future for the DPRK if Pyongyang denulclearizes quickly.’
Kim Jong Un agreed to allow international inspectors to examine the country’s nuclear testing site after meeting Pompeo, the U.S. said on Sunday.
Officials will be taken to the Punggye-ri testing site, buried inside a mountain near North Korea‘s border with China, once the two sides have agreed on ‘logistics,’ the U.S. secretary of state announced.
Kim claimed to have destroyed the site with a series of explosions last year, though there have been doubts cast over how badly damaged it is and whether it could be easily restarted.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he had a good meeting with Kim Jong Un in North Korea
President Trump said he’s looking forward to another meeting with Kim soon
Disarmament experts have also expressed concerns that North Korea dismantled the site away from prying eyes in order to hide traces of its activity.
Pompeo also said he is ‘close’ to setting the date for a second meeting between Trump and Kim after their historic first meeting in Singapore earlier this year.
President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, who is helping with negotiations and met with Pompeo after his summit with Kim on Sunday, said there will be another meeting between the two leaders as soon as possible.
The diplomat announced the news as he left Pyongyang for Beijing on a whirlwind diplomatic tour, saying the two sides had made ‘significant progress.’
He again refused to comment on what steps the US might take in return.
We ‘had a good, productive conversation,’ Pompeo said of his time in Pyongyang. ‘It was another step forward. So this is, I think, a good outcome for all.’
He met with Kim for two hours before flying to South Korea Sunday afternoon for a short stop there.
An American official who accompanied Pompeo said the North Korea trip was ‘better than the last time,’ referring to the secretary’s trip there in July, according to a State Department pool report.
But the official added: ‘It’s going to a long haul,’ according to The New York Times.
When Pompeo was in North Korea in July – his last visit there – Kim would not even meet with him. Trump cancelled a follow-up conversation this summer after North Korea accused the U.S. of ‘gangster-like’ demands until he Kim wrote him a letter asking to meet his American counterpart again.
On this, Pompeo’s fourth visit to Pyongyang, he and Kim had lunch together before Trump’s pointman on denuclearization left for South Korea.
Officials said this meeting with Pompeo and Kim went better than Pompeo’s last trip when Kim would not meet with him
President Trump has praised Kim as an ally, saying they ‘fell in love’
Trump, meanwhile, said on Sunday that progress was being made on the agreement between the two nations originally signed in Singapore and added that he is looking forward to another meeting with Kim.
‘.@SecPompeo had a good meeting with Chairman Kim today in Pyongyang. Progress made on Singapore Summit Agreements! I look forward to seeing Chairman Kim again, in the near future,’ he tweeted on his Sunday morning.
Pompeo was expected to lay the groundwork for a second summit between Kim and Trump during his trip. The two leaders met for the first time in June in Singapore.
Trump has praised Kim as an ally and even noted the two ‘fell in love’ in private notes that the leaders have not made public.
North Korean officials who dined with members of Pompeo’s staff in a separate room pushed for Trump to visit Pyongyang for a second summit. The U.S. president has not ruled the location out and has even suggested he could one day have Kim over to the White House.
Since Trump and Kim met in Singapore, relations between their nations have stalled and questions have emerged about the accord they signed, which had no timetable and no measurable factors to show North Korea was denuclearizing.
Trump canceled Pompeo’s planned trip to Pyongyang in August, citing little evidence that North Korea had followed through on any of its commitment to denuclearize, only to say it was back on in September after Pompeo met with his North Korean counterpart on the sidelines of the United Nations.