The Straits Times –
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reverted on Thursday (Aug 1) to criticism of China’s actions in Asia, speaking out at a regional forum against Chinese “coercion” in disputes over the South China Sea and dam-building on the Mekong River.
The comments highlighted a continuing divide with Beijing at a meeting of South-east Asian nations with world powers, even as Pompeo met China’s top diplomat Wang Yi met face-to-face for the first time this year earlier in the day.
Pompeo said both countries want to improve US-Chinese ties that have soured on issues ranging from a trade war to US sanctions on Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to Taiwan and the busy South China Sea waterway.
“We are working with them on many fronts,” Pompeo said of Beijing. “But we are also very candid about the places we are hoping China will behave in ways that they are not behaving today and we talked about each of those as well.”
Earlier, Wang had struck a more conciliatory tone, saying he and Pompeo had discussed ways to promote China-US ties. “There may be at various times issues and problems between China and the United States, but no matter how many problems, it is important for both sides to sit down and have face-to-face discussions,” Wang said after the meeting of roughly 30 minutes.