Xi Says China Conflict With U.S. Would Be Disaster

China’s President Xi Jinping called for greater military communication with the U.S., saying as he opened high-level talks between the two countries that any conflict would be a global disaster.

China needs a stable environment “more than ever,” and it’s inevitable that the two sides will have some disputes, Xi said at the Diaoyutai guest house before the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing.

“A conflict between China and United States will definitely be a disaster for the two countries and the world,” Xi said. “As long as we uphold mutual respect, maintain strategic patience and remain unperturbed by individual incidents and comments, we’ll be able to keep relations on a firm footing despite ups and downs that may come our way.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew arrived yesterday for the sixth round of the dialogue, this year aimed at rehabilitating relations strained by differences over cyber espionage and escalating maritime disputes between China and U.S. allies in the Asia Pacific. A year after U.S. President Barack Obama and China’s Xi declared their support for “a new model of major power relations,” the two countries face two days of negotiation over issues from climate change to global security.

“The United States and China will not always see eye-to-eye on every issue,” Obama said in a statement released as the talks got underway in Beijing. “That is to be expected for two nations with different histories and cultures.”

Ongoing Disputes

China remains suspicious over President Obama’s intention to rebalance its military forces to Asia, seeing the move as emboldening countries with which it has territorial disputes. Under Xi, China has tested U.S. alliances in the region by pressing its claims to a large part of the South China Sea, riling Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Kerry will deliver an unbiased U.S. position on issues of sovereignty with respect to competing territorial claims, and emphasize the importance of peaceful diplomacy and adherence to international norms and law, an official said before the talks, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Kerry and Lew are joined by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and will meet with State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Premier Li Keqiang. While Kerry tackles the strategic differences, Lew will address tensions emanating from U.S. firms’ growing complaints about access into the Chinese market, the official said.

— With assistance by Xin Zhou, and Henry Sanderson

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