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China's Xi Jinping seeks pragmatic approach to U.S.-China disputes

In a meeting with Henry Kissinger, Xi did not address the South China Sea dispute directly, but asked the United States for strategic cooperation.

By Elizabeth Shim
China's Xi Jinping seeks pragmatic approach to U.S.-China disputes
President Xi Jinping of China and U.S. President Barack Obama exchange toasts during a state dinner in the East Room of the White House on Sept. 25. Xi met with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on Monday, and requested Washington work with Beijing on "strategic cooperation." Pool Photo by Ron Sachs/UPI | License Photo

BEIJING, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- As maritime friction brews in the South China Sea, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China and the United States should correctly recognize their mutual strategic intentions.

Xi made the remarks during the fifth China-U.S. Track Two High-Level Dialogue, attended by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, according to Beijing's Foreign Ministry.

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"New opportunities and challenges are presenting themselves between our two countries," Xi told Kissinger. Using an understanding of each other's strategic intentions, "we must continue to handle bilateral relations from a strategic level," Yonhap reported.

Xi said China and the United States agreed to build "new superpower relations," and that he and U.S. President Barack Obama conducted a frank exchange of opinions during Xi's state visit to Washington in September. Xi, however, refrained from making explicit remarks about the Oct. 27 maneuvers of a U.S. Navy vessel near disputed reefs where China has claimed sovereignty, and where Beijing has begun building airstrips, according to the most recent satellite imagery.

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The United States has requested allies in the Asia-Pacific, including Australia, to express opposition to China's activities, but on Tuesday Canberra began military exercises in coordination with China, not far from the disputed Spratly Islands, Voice of America reported.

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The exercises were planned beforehand and are coinciding with the rise in tensions between China and the United States.

Australia's defense chief Mark Binskin said that the exercises are a "chance to work with regional navies and show transparency and capability in what we do.

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"It is part of the relationship we have with a lot of the regional navies in the development between the defense forces, and so we shouldn't make it more than what it actually is," Binskin said.

Near the areas of land reclamation on Subi and Mischief Reefs, China has been using other, more covert methods of warding off ships encroaching within the 12-mile radius of what it has unilaterally claimed its sovereign waters.

Defense News reported Monday that Beijing deployed Chinese merchant vessels to trail the USS Lassen on Oct. 27. The ships, according to analyst Andrew Erickson at the U.S. Naval War College, could be Chinese naval militia that has more leeway to confront ships sailing near the China-claimed islands.

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