US official says China not forthcoming in talks with Pompeo

WASHINGTON (AP) - A senior US State Department official said Thursday that the US was disappointed with China's stance at a meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a top Chinese diplomat in Hawaii this week.
Deputy Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell said the Chinese were not "really open-minded" during Pompeo's closed talks on Wednesday with Yang Jiechi, the Chinese Communist Party's leading foreign minister. The meeting took place at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu and no reporting was possible except based on official statements.
Although he said the Chinese were "very clearly committed" to pushing through the first phase of a trade deal with the Trump administration last year, Stilwell said there was little sign of progress on other issues that triggered relations between them and Washington Beijing to new lows.
China has become a key element of the 2020 presidential campaign. President Donald Trump and his supporters are trying to make the government's tough stance towards Beijing an important foreign policy selling point. Trump and his campaign tried to portray the later democratic candidate Joe Biden as soft towards China.
And after the revelations by former national security adviser John Bolton that Trump might have been less harsh on China than he imagines, the president tweeted on Thursday: “The United States is certainly holding on to a political option to completely decouple from China under various conditions. ”
Pompeo, for its part, said in a statement released late Thursday that he "has not read the book, but from the excerpts that I have published, John Bolton is spreading a series of lies, fully spun half-truths, and total untruths. He described Bolton as "a traitor who harmed America by violating his sacred trust in his people."
Stilwell would not specifically address the controversial issues discussed in Hawaii. In a conference call, he told reporters that he wanted to leave the Chinese "diplomatic area" to change course on several issues. But he said they are largely about longstanding US complaints about Chinese behavior.
These include China's response to the coronavirus outbreak, human rights, China's policy in Hong Kong, its increasing aggressiveness, and most recently, its actions along the borders with India, where fatal clashes between the two military forces have occurred.
China "could not be described as really forthcoming in all of this," said Stilwell. He questioned the Chinese Foreign Ministry's description of the meeting, calling it "very one-sided" and "flashy and unrealistic".
The ministry's statement included a litany of complaints about U.S. activities and attitudes, including Trump's signing of a law sanctioning Chinese officials for violating minority human rights in western Xinjian province.
Stilwell said Pompeo had made it very clear to the Chinese that the relationship should be "more mutual" and suggested that the world watch Beijing's actions over the next few weeks to see if they understood the message.
He said the meeting was partially organized to let the Chinese know that their actions were against them. They need to reevaluate the direction they are going. "
Regarding the coronavirus pandemic, Stilwell emphasized that Pompeo emphasized the importance the United States attaches to China by disclosing all of its data and information about the outbreak that occurred in Wuhan City. "We insist that the Chinese disclose everything they know about the start of this pandemic," said Stilwell.
Pompeo also reaffirmed to the Chinese that Trump is ready to phase out an important nuclear weapons control agreement with Russia unless it can be renegotiated to include China. China has so far refused to participate.
"We are looking for a positive commitment to high-level arms talks," said Stilwell. "We would encourage them. We want you to participate in these talks to prevent an unfortunate outcome. "
Wednesday's meeting in Hawaii was just beginning when the revelations from Bolton's book appeared. Neither the State Department nor Stilwell would comment specifically on Bolton's claims that Trump had used China's reelection aid in 2020 and encouraged Chinese leader Xi Jinping to set up Uyghur Muslim concentration camps in western China.

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