Sat Feb 4, 2017 1:26AM
China's State Councilor Yang Jiechi (file photo)
China's State Councilor Yang Jiechi (file photo)

China hopes it can manage major disputes with the United States through dialogue and cooperation, China’s senior diplomat says.

State Councilor Yang Jiechi, who outranks the country’s foreign minister, was quoted by the Chinese Foreign Ministry as making the remarks in a statement released on Friday.

"China hopes that the new US government can work hard together with China to strengthen high-level and other exchanges, maintain the political basis for bilateral relations, expand cooperation bilaterally, regionally and globally in all areas, manage and control disputes and sensitive issues,” the statement paraphrased Yang as saying.

The ministry added that Yang’s comments came hours after he made a telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump's National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The brief statement, however, did not mention the areas of contention between the two sides, including the disputed South China Sea or the One China policy on Taiwan.

Yang was China’s foreign minister from 2007 to 2013, and the country’s ambassador to Washington from 2001 to 2005.

Tensions have recently been running high between Beijing and Washington over the disputed South China Sea and Trump’s attempt to what Beijing has described as “impairing” the One China principle. In December, Trump abandoned decades of precedent by taking a phone call from the president of Taiwan, which China has considered as a breakaway province since a government was established there in 1949.

According to the One China policy, countries that seek diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China (PRC, Mainland China) must sever official relations, if they have any, with the government of Taiwan, which calls itself the Republic of China (ROC), controlling only Taiwan and some nearby island groups. The ROC has not been accepted by the United Nations as a member state.

Washington has been practicing the One China policy since 1979. Beijing has repeatedly warned that the US risked damaging bilateral ties with China if it dropped the policy.

Read more

This file photo taken on May 5, 2016 shows crew members of China's South Sea Fleet taking part in a drill in the Xisha Islands, or the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. (Photo by AFP)

The White House is also at odds with Beijing since China claims almost all of the strategic and resource-rich South China Sea, which is a major sea trade route. The territory is also claimed in part by Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines, which accuse China of expansionist ambitions in the region.

Reaching an agreement on the territorial disputes in the contested sea has proved a bumpy road for the US and China since Chinese officials have said emphatically that matters of sovereignty are “non-negotiable.” 

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Trump have only talked to each other once, over the phone, shortly after the latter won the US presidential election in November, but the pair have yet to speak since Trump took office in January.

Earlier on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that the two leaders were continuing to remain in “close contact.”