US says will take tough line with China if norms violated

US National Security Adviser Susan Rice, left, shakes hands with China’s President Xi Jinping, third right, as US Secretary of State John Kerry, second left, and President Barack Obama look on during a meeting after participating in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, at the Zhongnanhai leadership compound, in Beijing, on Tuesday.

US National Security Adviser Susan Rice, left, shakes hands with China’s President Xi Jinping, third right, as US Secretary of State John Kerry, second left, and President Barack Obama look on during a meeting after participating in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, at the Zhongnanhai leadership compound, in Beijing, on Tuesday.

BEIJING: President Barack Obama opened two days of talks Tuesday with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a sprawling garden compound next to the Forbidden City, telling the Chinese leader he wants to take the relationship “to a new level.” “When the US and China are able to work together effectively, the whole world benefits,” Obama said.

Obama said he hoped for productive, candid talks of the kind they held last year at the Sunnylands estate in California, where the two leaders aimed to forge a close personal bond during hours of meetings and a long stroll through its manicured gardens.

Xi, speaking through a translator, sought to portray their relationship as one that would only grow over time, drawing on a metaphor about how a pool begins with many drops of water.

Beams of red and blue lights lit up Zhong Nan Hai, the imperial gardens near Tiananmen Square that serve as the center of power for China’s government and the Communist Party of China. After Obama arrived in his motorcade, Xi greeted the American president on a chilly evening with a handshake and led him on a ceremonial walk over a brightly lit bridge, explaining the history of Zhong Nan Hai through a translator.

The United States will be “very clear” with China if it veers beyond the bounds of international norms on cyber security and other issues, a senior US official said on Tuesday ahead of a summit between the leaders of the two countries.

The comments by Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, come at a time when Beijing is increasingly assertive in the region and has been pushing to establish institutions that it aims to lead, including a multilateral security forum and an Asian infrastructure investment bank.

Cyber-spying, maritime disputes, and a wide range of other issues will come up when US President Barack Obama holds formal talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, Rhodes said.

“We welcome the desire in China that is clearly on display here at the summit, to play a role in the international community that is commensurate with its economic and political standing, and its standing as the world’s most populous nation,” Rhodes, one of Obama’s top White House aides, told reporters.

“At the same time, we’re going to be very clear when we believe that China’s actions are actually pushing outside the boundaries of what we believe to be the necessary international norms that govern relations between nations and the ways in which we resolve disputes.” Obama arrived in China seeking to show renewed commitment to the US strategic “pivot” toward Asia, widely seen as an effort to counter China’s rising influence.

Despite points of tension in the China-US relationship, Obama struck a positive note on Tuesday in his first one-on-one encounter with Xi on this visit, a necktie-free dinner in Beijing’s vermillion-walled leadership compound.

 
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