Clinton flies in amid tension

Updated: 2012-09-05 03:41


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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Beijing on Tuesday in a bid to ease tension over US involvement in territorial disputes and an increasing military presence in the region.

Clinton flies in amid tension

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi shows the way forward with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Beijing on Tuesday. Feng Yongbin / China Daily 

Clinton highlighted the importance of ties and future relations on her arrival.

Analysts cautioned that Washington should understand China’s legitimate territorial concerns and stop "meddling".

Analysts also said that the visit by Clinton, perhaps her last one to China if she honors her intention to step down in January, won’t achieve much if she focuses primarily on territorial disputes between China and its neighbors.

Clinton, on her second visit to China this year, met with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi late on Tuesday night.

In recent years China and the US have witnessed a healthy, steady development of ties, which serves the interests of people in both nations and contributes to peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region as well as the world, Yang said.

China vows to enhance the partnership based on "mutual respect, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation", Yang said.

Clinton focused on partnership with China.

"Washington continues to stress the importance of the practical cooperation that underlies our comprehensive relationship.

"We're committed to building a cooperative partnership with China, it is a key aspect of our rebalancing in the Asia-Pacific,’’ she said.

Dong Manyuan, deputy director of the Beijing-based China Institute of International Studies, said regional issues have accounted for a major part of Clinton’s workload.

"Recent friction and differing views over a series of issues in the region require high-level reconciliation," Dong said.

The trip highlights Washington's desire to seek more stable ties in the context of the presidential election, said Jin Canrong, an American studies professor at Renmin University of China.

She came at a time when observers in Beijing are increasingly concerned about US backing for some Asian countries that have rival claims with China in the South China Sea and East China Sea.

Clinton has just completed a visit to Indonesia, where she said Southeast Asian countries must present a united front to the Chinese in dealing with territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Clinton’s suggestion runs counter to China's stance that one-on-one talks will be more conducive.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Tuesday that Washington has stated many times "it does not take sides".

Hong warned that "we hope that the US will abide by its promises and do more that is beneficial to regional peace and stability, and not the opposite’’.

The Guardian said US involvement has deepened since US President Barack Obama decided last year to switch attention and resources to the Asia-Pacific region as American commitments in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Europe ebbed.

Yet, the UK newspaper said, Clinton's visit will not unite Southeast Asia against China.

Xinhua News Agency also said the US is "stirring up disputes" in the region to curb Chinese influence, and warned that this was part of Washington’s "surreal ambition of ruling the Asia-Pacific and the world’’.

The US got deeper involved in the South China Sea issue two years ago after Clinton made controversial remarks in Vietnam saying that freedom of navigation in the South China Sea was a US "national interest".

Clinton has made numerous visits to the region since then, and she will also visit Brunei, an ASEAN member, after her Beijing trip.

Japan is also claiming sovereignty over China’s Diaoyu Islands.

Despite its repeated stance that it is not "taking a position" over the Diaoyu Islands, Washington has reaffirmed that the islands fall within the scope of the 1960 US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.

Japanese media said the islands are on Clinton's agenda.

Tao Wenzhao, a specialist on American studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the issue does not need US participation.

"If Clinton keeps fixating over issues like this the trip will not see major progress," Tao warned.

Dong warned that Washington’s failure to formulate a coherent policy on the issue will damage ties.

Clinton appeared "conciliatory" while attending the recent Pacific Islands Forum in the Cook Islands. Clinton previously told reporters that Washington wants "a comprehensive, positive, cooperative relationship" with China.

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