U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis met with Chinese officials this week, hoping to ease tensions as trade wars and military suspicions persist. As his visit comes to a close, both nations declared the meetings a success, albeit with vague conclusions.
Mattis called the talks as “very, very good” while Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said, “the visit achieved positive, constructive outcomes.”
Before departing, Mattis said this visit was to establish a “transparent strategic dialogue.” The need for transparency has only grown as the White House implements harsher tariffs on China and revokes their invitation to a regular military exercise, yet hopes for aid in its battle against North Korean nuclearization.
While the two nations have disagreed over these issues, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Mattis that “it has long been known that the real experts on military affairs do not want to employ military means to solve issues.”
“I’m here to keep our relationship on the right trajectory,” Mattis told the president, as reported by the Washington Post, “to share ideas with your military leadership as we look at the way ahead.”
One area of contention surrounds China’s hold over the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which the U.S. supplies with weapons. Xi told Mattis that China would not give up “any inch of territory” in the Pacific.
“Our stance is steadfast and clear-cut when it comes to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said, according to Xinhua News.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said it was “natural that China and the US have differences in different times and aspects as two big countries,” adding that “the key part is solving the issues between the U.S. and China with mutual respect. We have always believed that the bilateral relationship can benefit both countries and both peoples.”
During his two-day stay, Mattis met with Xi, Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe, and senior foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi. According to Chinese spokesmen, Wei has accepted an invitation to visit the U.S. later this year.