US presses China to contain militarization in the South China Sea

 The United States demanded on Friday that China suspend the militarization of the disputed South China Sea, prompting a reprimand from Beijing for sending US warships and planes near the islands disputed by the Chinese in the strategic sea passage.
 During a round of high-level negotiations in Washington, the two sides voiced many of their key geopolitical differences, including the bitter trade dispute, the freedoms of navigation in the Asian Pacific region, the issue of Taiwan's self-government, and repression from China to Muslim minorities.
 Two Chinese officials visiting the country also took the opportunity to warn that a trade war between the two major economies of the world could end up affecting both sides and called for the opening of communication channels to resolve an issue that destabilized the financial markets of the planet.
 The talks seemed aimed at controlling the damage to relations that had worsened in recent months and laying the groundwork for a meeting between US President Donald Trump and China's Xi Jinping at the G20 conference in Argentina at the end from November.
 While the United States and China face challenges in their relationship, "cooperation remains essential on many issues," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a joint news conference, citing efforts to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.
 The meeting brought together Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis with Chinese Politburo member Yang Jiechi and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe. The annual China-US Security dialogue was originally scheduled for Beijing last month but was postponed amid heightened tensions.
 Pompeo turned to China for its continued advance of military installations on artificial islands and coral reefs and in the South China Sea, where the country insists on having sovereignty despite claims from some of its smaller neighbors.
 "We continue to have concerns about China's activities and militarization in the South China Sea," Pompeo said after the round of talks. "We have pressed China to honor its past commitments in its area."
 Yang said China would be committed to working with the United States in order to avoid confrontation but demanded that the Americans stop shipping warships and planes near the islands claimed by Beijing. Washington insists it has acted under international law to preserve access to the South China Sea.

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