China Justifies Strategic Bombers Drills In South China Sea, US-China Trade War “On Hold”

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China Justifies Strategic Bombers Drills In South China Sea, US-China Trade War "On Hold"

A July 2016 file photo shows a Chinese H-6K bomber patrolling islands and reefs, including Huangyan Island in the South China Sea. (Xinhua/Liu Rui)

On May 21, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang stated that the landing of the Chinese Air Force’s H-6K strategic bombers in the islands of the South China Sea had been a part of usual military drills:

“The South China Sea Islands are China’s territory. The relevant military activities are the normal training of the Chinese military and there is no need for other parties to over-interpret that,” Kang stated.

“As to the so-called “militarization” mentioned by the US, the normal training on our own territory is totally a different thing from certain country’s threat to others by sending military vessels and aircraft to this region from thousands of miles away.”

On May 21, Filipino Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque stated that the Philippines had expressed “serious concerns” over the China’s strategic bombers presence in the South China Sea and Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs had taken an “appropriate diplomatic action”, Reuters reported.

“But we take note of the reports that appeared and we express our serious concerns anew on its impact to efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region,” Roque said.

The Pentagon criticized China’s “continued militarization” of island outposts in the South China Sea, the US ABC News reported on May 19.

“We have seen these same reports and China’s continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea only serves to raise tensions and destabilize the region,” a spokesman for the Pentagon Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan said.

On May 18, the Chinese newspaper People’s Daily posted a video revealing that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force of China had carried out the first landing of the strategic bomber H-6K in the islands of the South China Sea.

On May 18, the US-Philippine joint military exercises including amphibious landing contributed to the strengthening of “the US-Philippines military partnership”, according to a speech of Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines Michael Klecheski.

The joint drills started on May 3 as a part of the annual Balikatan military exercises focused on developing skills in disaster response, fighting terrorism and chemical attacks.
The recent drills in the South China Sea came after the PLA Air Force had carried out patrol near Taiwan, when Su-35 fighter jets had flown over the Bashi Channel with the strategic bomber H-6K on May 11 and the May 9 training of the China’s Chengdu J-20 stealth fifth-generation fighter jets.

Trade talks

On May 21, Kang stressed that the “trade consultations” between the US and China in Washington from May 15 to 19 had been “constructive” and “meant to address each other’s concerns, increase mutual understanding, and work toward compromise”.

“I would like to say that China is never willing to see any tension between the two sides, including that in trade or other areas. If we, as two major countries, can maintain sound bilateral relations as well as interaction and cooperation across the board, it will surely better serve the interests of the two countries and peoples and bring benefits to the world than otherwise,” Kang said.

On May 20, in an interview to the Fox News TV channel, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that the trade war between the US and China is “on hold” after the world’s powers had the second round of trade negotiations. Mnuchin stated that Washington and Beijing had agreed to drop their tariff threats for a while as a wider trade agreement is in work.

“We have made very meaningful progress, and we agreed on a framework,” Mnuchin said. “We’re putting the trade war on hold.”

On May 19, the White House released a joint statement of the US and China over the trade consultations declaring the reached “consensus” between countries in order to reduce trade tensions:

“There was a consensus on taking effective measures to substantially reduce the United States trade deficit in goods with China. To meet the growing consumption needs of the Chinese people and the need for high-quality economic development, China will significantly increase purchases of United States goods and services. This will help support growth and employment in the United States.”

According to the statement, both sides agreed the increase in the US agriculture and energy exports. Washington is to send a team to Beijing “to work out the details”.

The first round of the trade talks began on May 3, when the US delegation arrived in Beijing to carry out 2-day talks with Chinese officials. The negotiations’ aim is to stop the standoff between two world powers over the economic issues, which started in April when the sides imposed punitive tariffs each against other.

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