Updated: 07/09/2014 16:49 | By Agence France-Presse

China, US vow to end old rivalries

China and the United States met for high-level talks Wednesday, with Chinese President Xi Jinping urging the world's two biggest economies to break old patterns of confrontation.


China, US vow to end old rivalries

US Secretary of State John Kerry gestures as he attends a conference on climate change with Chinese officials at the Fanghuayuan Hall in the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing on July 9, 2014 - by Andy Wong

Given their different histories and cultures "it is natural that China and the US may have different views and even frictions on certain issues", Xi told the opening of the two-day annual talks in Beijing.

"This is what makes communication and cooperation even more necessary," he urged, speaking in the same imposing compound where then-US president Richard Nixon met Mao Zedong on his groundbreaking visit to China in 1972.

The sixth Strategic and Economic Dialogue comes as tensions have risen in recent months -- racked by maritime disputes between China and its neighbours as well as US fears over cybersecurity and Chinese hacking.

"Our interests are more than ever interconnected," Xi insisted, saying the two "stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation".

"If we are in confrontation it will surely spell disaster for both countries and for the world," he said, adding the Pacific powers needed to "break the old pattern of inevitable confrontation".

In a statement sent to the opening of the meetings, US President Barack Obama agreed, saying: "The United States and China will not always see eye-to-eye on every issue."

That was "why we need to build our relationship around common challenges, mutual responsibilities, and shared interests, even while we candidly address our differences", Obama said.

Obama, who has made the so-called pivot to Asia a focus of his administration, will return to Beijing in November when it hosts a  summit of Asia-Pacific leaders.

Topping the agenda Wednesday were discussions on how to tackle climate change, as the two largest emitters of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming agreed to launch eight pilot projects aimed at reducing their carbon footprints.

"People around the world are demanding action," US Secretary of State John Kerry told a working group on the issue.

"Climate change respects no borders, no boundaries, and affects the entire planet. For better or worse, we are now aware of the consequences of inaction in ways that we never have before."

US special envoy for climate change Todd Stern said the two sides had had some "constructive" talks before a UN meeting in Paris next year due to set new global gas emissions targets for after 2020.

"It is crucial for China to play a very important role in reducing emissions," Stern said, highlighting that it already accounts for about a quarter of the world's greenhouse gases and will be emitting more than twice the US by 2020 as "they're still growing and we're going down".

Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, told reporters that Beijing was working on setting its targets.

"In terms of responding to climate change we share common but differentiated responsibilities," Xie stressed. 

China has long argued that it remains a developing country despite its economic clout, and as such should not have to shoulder the same burden for reducing greenhouse gases.

Kerry, who is leading Washington's team with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, earlier sought to address Chinese concerns that the US was seeking to rein in the country, insisting "the United States does not seek to contain China".

"We welcome the emergence of a peaceful, stable, prosperous China that contributes to the stability and development of the region and chooses to play a responsible role in world affairs", he said.

Kerry will also try to persuade China to reinstate a cybersecurity working group in a bid to draw up rules for using and protecting the Internet.

The new group, which has only met twice, was cancelled by Beijing after the US indicted five Chinese military officers for hacking into US businesses -- charges dismissed by China as "intentionally fabricated".

This year marks 35 years since the establishment of formal US-China ties. Trade between the two giants ballooned to more than $520 billion last year, or a quarter of the world's total commerce.

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