Charting the Course for Future U.S.-China Relations

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping before their bilateral meeting in Beijing, China, on March 19, 2017.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping before their bilateral meeting in Beijing, China, on March 19, 2017.

Charting the Course for Future U.S.-China Relations

On March 18, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Beijing, China during his first trip to the East Asia and Pacific region. Secretary Tillerson held meetings with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and President Xi Jinping to discuss a range of bilateral and multilateral issues, including strategic coordination to address the advancing nuclear and missile threat from North Korea.

During his meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the Secretary followed up on last month’s telephone conversation between President Trump and President Xi, noting that it paved the way for continued productive high-level engagement. In remarks after their meeting, Secretary Tillerson discussed the long history of our bilateral relationship, as well as the need to forge a constructive and results-oriented path moving forward. “Since the historic opening of relations between our two countries more than 40 years ago, the U.S.-China relationship has been guided by an understanding of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation. It is important that the leaders of our two countries engage in further dialogue to develop a common understanding that will guide our relationship for the next half-century,” he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Foreign Minister Wang Yi address media during a joint press conference in Beijing, China, on March 18, 2017.

In addition, the Secretary underscored the importance that both the United States and China -- the world’s two largest economies -- played in promoting stability and growth, emphasizing that our two countries should have a positive trading relationship that is fair and mutually beneficial. Secretary Tillerson also addressed the importance of safeguarding stability and security in Northeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, noting that efforts made over the last 20 years had not yet succeeded in curbing the threat posed by North Korea’s illegal weapons programs. He went on to add, “Because China’s stated policy is denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, we renewed our determination to work together to convince the North Korean Government to choose a better path and a different future for its people.”

Secretary Tillerson and Foreign Minister Wang Yi also discussed the importance of upholding a rules-based order in dealing with maritime disputes and freedom of navigation and overflight. They also discussed other strategic issues of concern, and Secretary Tillerson made clear that the United States will continue to advocate for universal values such as human rights and religious freedom.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addresses media during a joint press conference with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing, China, on March 18, 2017.

In his discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Secretary Tillerson reiterated the high value President Trump places on the communications the two leaders have had thus far, and noted in particular their recent conversation during which they shared positive exchanges about improving the relationship between the United States and China.

Both President Xi and Secretary Tillerson agreed there are opportunities for greater cooperation between China and the United States. Looking to the future, Secretary Tillerson shared his hope that further dialogue will help our two countries achieve a greater understanding and lead to strengthened ties.

Secretary Tillerson also conveyed that President Trump anticipates welcoming President Xi Jinping to the United States for further discussions that will chart the course for future U.S.-China relations.

Editor's Note: This entry is also published on Medium.com/StateDept.

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