BEIJING, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- Visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Chinese President Hu Jintao Wednesday their bilateral relations are on a strong and solid basis.
Clinton, on an Asia-Pacific tour, arrived in Beijing Tuesday, with the official Chinese media describing the visit as a bid to ease tension over U.S. involvement in territorial disputes and an increasing military presence in the region.
China Daily, reporting her meeting with Hu, quoted Clinton as saying: "We are able to explore areas of agreement and areas of disagreement in a very open manner, which demonstrates the maturity of our relationship and the opportunities for us to take it even further in the future." She also was quoted as saying two countries have invested in "such intensive communications and now we are working on practical cooperation ... our relationship is on a strong and solid basis."
Hu thanked Clinton for her efforts in promoting bilateral ties, the report said.
Her visit comes at a time when China has been asserting its sovereignty over some of the resource-rich islands in the vital South China Sea, even as Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei also have overlapping claims. The United States, knowing the strategic sea lanes are vital for international commerce, is concerned about the rising territorial tensions and supports a multilateral format to resolve the issues.
Prior to arriving in China, Clinton made it clear in Indonesia the United States has a "national interest" in the maintenance of unimpeded, lawful commerce in the South China Sea and urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China to work toward a code of conduct for settling the territorial disputes in the South China Sea. She also repeated the U.S. stand that while it does not take a position on the competing territorial claims, it wants the nations of the region to work together to resolve the disputes without intimidation, threats or use of force.
The official Chinese media has been extensively commenting on the Obama administration's pivot to Asia policy, claiming the main purpose of this policy shift is to maintain the U.S. dominance in the fastest-growing region amid heightened concerns about China's rise. These reports also have been saying under its new policy, the United States also has deployed troops in Australia, boosted military cooperation with Japan and strengthened military ties with some of the countries having territorial disputes with China.
A China Daily article Wednesday quoted analysts as cautioning Washington to stop "meddling" and understand China's legitimate territorial concerns. The report said Clinton's China visit won't achieve much if she focuses primarily on territorial disputes between China and its neighbors.
Earlier, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said his country and the United States have seen a healthy, steady development of ties that contributes to peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region as well as the world, adding Beijing would enhance this partnership based on "mutual respect, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation."
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Tuesday China hoped the United States would abide by its promise of not taking sides on the territorial issues and "do more that is beneficial to regional peace and stability, and not the opposite."
In Washington, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell stressed the United States wants "a collaborative, diplomatic solution" to the sea issue.
"We don't take any particular position on various competing claims, but we want a collaborative diplomatic process that avoids coercion, and you know that the secretary has been clear about that," he said, the State Department said on its Web site.
China has been insisting on a bilateral approach to the sea issue, but critics say they fear such an approach would be used by Beijing to bring economic coercion on some of the countries.
In other developments, Voice of America quoted a senior U.S. State Department official as saying Xi Jinping, tipped to become China's next president succeeding Hu Jintao, had canceled a meeting with Clinton "for unexpected scheduling reasons."
The official said Xi's meetings with Singapore's prime minister and a Russian official also were canceled.