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Rex Tillerson meets China’s top envoy Yang Jiechi amid trade and North Korean tensions
 
Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meet with media before their talks in Washington on Thursday morning. Yang is paying a two-day visit to the US. Photo: China Daily
 
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi on Thursday reaffirmed their countries’ commitment to exert pressure in Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons, the U.S. State Department said.
 
Yang was on a two-day visit to Washington that began on Thursday. His talks were also expected to cover the sensitive U.S.-China economic relationship after recent tit-for-tat actions that have raised fears of a trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
 
Speaking before the meeting, Tillerson said: “We’ve had many, many good discussions, and we’re going to continue these very important discussions about US-China relations. And I very much warmly, warmly welcome him here.”
 
Yang responded by thanking Tillerson and promising to “carry out the agreement between our two heads of state and push forward our very important relationship.”
 
“Both sides reaffirmed President Trump’s and President Xi’s commitment to keep up pressure on North Korea’s illegal weapons and nuclear programs,” State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a news briefing. 
 
Nauert said Tillerson and Yang “agreed on the importance of continuing a constructive and productive relationship aimed at cooperation on mutual challenges and addressing our differences forthrightly.”
 
“They discussed the need to achieve a fair and reciprocal bilateral economic relationship and shared approaches to stemming the flow of deadly narcotics,” Nauert said, adding that the two looked forward to continuing discussions at an annual diplomatic and security dialogue in the first half of 2018.
 
Beijing and Washington share concerns about North Korea’s development of nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States.
 
“We expect, we hope that China will do more, because we know they can do more in terms of adhering to U.N. Security Council resolutions,” Nauert said.
 
The two countries are also divided on how to deal with North Korea, with China repeatedly warning the US not to attempt a pre-emptive strike on the country and Trump reportedly mulling precisely that.
 
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said earlier on Thursday that Beijing hoped North and South Korea could maintain the momentum of their current rapprochement and gradually open the door to peace.
 
Concerns were also raised at the end of January, when a prospective US ambassador to South Korea was dropped from his planned post, reportedly because he objected to the idea of a so-called bloody nose strike to cow Kim Jong-un. 
 
The meeting comes after multiple US investigations into China’s trade practices.
 
U.S. President Donald Trump slapped steep tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels last month and is considering recommendations on import restrictions for steel and aluminum or other trade sanctions against China over its intellectual property practices. 
 
In August, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer launched the Section 301 investigation into Chinese regulations that force US companies operating in China to transfer technology and intellectual property rights to local business partners.
 
In response, at the weekend, China’s commerce ministry launched an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probe into imports of sorghum from the United States. 
 
But China said the anti-dumping probe of imported U.S. sorghum is a "normal case of trade remedy" following suggestions it might be retaliation for Washington's investigation of Chinese steel and other goods.
 
The Ministry of Commerce said it launched the probe of U.S. sorghum after concluding large volumes and falling prices hurt Chinese producers. It could raise import duties or take other steps if it finds the United States acted improperly.
 
Those moves had rekindled concerns among global policymakers and markets of a U.S.-China trade war.
 
But foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said U.S.-Chinese trade relations are "mutually beneficial." 
 
"We are willing to deepen reciprocal cooperation with the United States and continue benefiting the two peoples," he said. "We hope the United States will go along with China to make concrete efforts to this end."

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