Top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi (YAHNG jee-uh-CHERR) is making his government's position clear after the latest round of U.S. He also made a point to mention the importance the U.S. places on getting China to reduce oil imports from Iran to zero, a commitment Beijing has emphatically said it will oppose.
Trump's administration has also accused China of interfering in United States politics, charges China strongly denies, and the two have sparred over the disputed South China Sea and self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims.
"We made clear that the United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever global law allows", Mattis said.
While the Washington talks focused on security, trade is at the heart of tensions between the world's two biggest economies.
As the world today is undergoing unprecedented changes that have not been seen in the past 100 years, it is the global community's expectation that China-U.S. relations will continue to move forward in the right direction, the Chinese president said.
The meeting paired Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis with Chinese Politburo member Yang Jiechi and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe.
"China faced no consequences when it ignored" US calls to halt reclamation and new construction in the South China Sea, he said, adding that there was "no reason for it to fold now".More news: Final Fantasy XV DLC cancelled as director quits
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HANOI-Vietnam strongly protested China's launch of weather stations in the disputed Spratly group of islands, saying on Thursday they seriously violate Vietnam's sovereignty and complicate the situation in the South China Sea. "Rather, we want to make sure China acts responsibly and fairly".
But the exchange on display before reporters served to show just how much space there is between the two sides, particularly over the South China Sea and freedom of navigation. "We pressed China to live up to its past commitments in this area". Beijing said the ongoing trade war hurts both sides. Washington has protested to Beijing about recent behavior by its warships that the U.S. Navy considered unsafe.
China and the USA have put tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other's goods and Trump has threatened to set tariffs on the remainder of China's US$500 billion-plus exports to the United States if the dispute can not be resolved. "The door to negotiations remains open", the top Chinese diplomat said and expressed hope that the two sides find a "mutually acceptable solution" to the ongoing trade issue.
Pompeo also reiterated USA 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.
Trump has made reaching a denuclearization agreement with North Korea a top priority since his landmark summit in June with the totalitarian state's leader Kim Jong Un. Yang insisted that Chinese people have freedom of religion, and that "foreign countries have no right to interfere".
The Pentagon had previously declined to comment on a May report quoting unnamed sources with direct knowledge of US intelligence reports as saying that the anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems had been deployed to Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef in April or early May.
"China is committed to working with the USA to achieve a no-confrontational, conflict-free, mutually respectful co-operation in which both sides win", added Yang, who heads the ruling Communist Party's foreign affairs commission and outranks Wang.