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Thursday, June 2, 2016, 15:08

US urged to 'stick to its promise'

By Li Xiaokun And Wang Xu
US urged to 'stick to its promise'
Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi (left) makes remarks with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the conclusion of the Strategic Track Oceans meeting during the seventh US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue at the US State Department in Washington DC, June 24, 2015. ( AFP PHOTO/CHRIS KLEPONIS)

A senior Chinese diplomat urged Washington on Thursday to stick to its promise of not taking sides on the South China Sea issue, ahead of the annual highest-level Sino-US dialogue.

At the Lanting Forum ahead of next week's Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing, Vice-Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang also called for the United States not to make its South China Sea policy decisions based merely on "whether somebody is an ally or not".

"In fact, the United States is not a claimant in the South China Sea dispute, and it has said it takes no position on territorial disputes," Zheng said.

"So we hope the US can stick to its promise and not choose sides, and instead base its stance on the rights and wrongs of the case," he added.

"I think if Washington can do this and stop provocative acts targeting China's sovereignty and security interests, then the US can play a constructive role in maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea" and help defuse the tension on the issue.

State Councilor Yang Jiechi will discuss the South China Sea with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, Zheng added.

Zheng also said that China and the US will hold the sixth Strategic Security Dialogue on Sunday, which will be co-chaired by Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui and US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

He said representatives of the two militaries and relevant departments will "have in-depth discussions" on issues including sovereignty, maritime and outer space security and military relations.

The Foreign Ministry announced that the eighth Strategic and Economic Dialogue and the seventh China-US High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange will both be held on Monday and Tuesday.

At the S & ED, State Councilor Yang and Kerry will co-chair the strategic part of the dialogue, while Vice-Premier Wang Yang and US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will co-chair the economic part.

Zheng said the strategic dialogue will cover topics including building up the new type of relations for major nations, managing differences and sensitive issues, and the two countries' interaction in the Asia-Pacific.

A special conference on climate change will be held on the sidelines of the talks.

Qin Yaqing, president of China Foreign Affairs University, said that in the dialogue, China and the US should consider how to convert their differences into areas of cooperation.

"We can even consider whether we can turn the South China Sea into a point of cooperation," she said.

Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said, "China-US relations have come to a new crossroads," citing the debate on China policy in the US presidential campaign, the unknown fate of the S & ED under the next US administration, and US involvement in the South China Sea.

"That has made this round of S & ED more eye-catching," he said.

Sino-US pacts to be sealed

China and the United States will sign 12 cooperation agreements in Beijing next week, Hao Ping, vice-minister of education, said on Thursday.

The agreements will be signed during the seventh round of China-US High-level Consultation on People-to-People Exchanges and will target 135 designated outcomes.

"At this year's CPE, China and the US will build a communication platform for university think tanks, set up joint training projects for astronomy students and researchers, and establish communication mechanisms for medical associations," Hao said.

The exchanges will also "start an initiative to foster deep cooperation between technology universities in both countries in five years," Hao said at a forum ahead of next week's high-level meetings with US officials.

The seventh round of the CPE will be held on Monday and Tuesday and will be co-chaired by Vice-Premier Liu Yandong and US Secretary of State John Kerry, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Hao said this year's event will not only ensure that communication takes place on a regular basis, but also guarantee innovative ways of cooperation as well as launching health projects in a third country.

"Zhanjiang High-tech Park in Shanghai will set up a business park in Boston, and we will promote establishment of cooperation networks between hospitals in China and the US," Hao said.

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