Mattis to meet Chinese counterpart amid tensions

Mattis and his Chinese counterpart to meet following canceled talks

US, Chinese Defense Chiefs Meet in Effort to Improve Ties

Making the announcement at a gathering of ASEAN defense ministers, also attended by US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his Chinese counterpart, Ng said the drills would help to build trust and confidence.

Randall Schriver, a USA assistant secretary of defence who helps guide Pentagon policy in Asia, said Mattis and Wei largely restated differing views on thorny security disputes but agreed on the need for durable ties.

A meeting between the two men had initially been scheduled to take place in Beijing last weekend, but it fell through after China declined to make Wei available. "It is an important way for (Chinese President) Xi Jinping to signal to his domestic population that he has a handle of the US-China relationship, that it's not spiraling out of control".

"Our message will be no single country can change worldwide law, global norms", he said.

"Believing that the proper management of disputes in the South China Sea is vital in safeguarding regional peace and stability, both sides reaffirmed their commitment to the principles of freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea, freedom of worldwide commerce and other peaceful uses of the sea", the DFA said.

China has been infuriated by the United States putting sanctions on China's military for buying weapons from Russian Federation, and by what Beijing sees as stepped-up US support for self-ruled Taiwan, claimed by China as its sacred territory.

Southeast Asian countries agreed on Friday to guidelines to manage unexpected encounters between their military aircraft, with host Singapore calling the pact a world first and saying they would encourage their worldwide partners to join.

"We're two large powers, or two Pacific powers, two economic powers".

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Top Chinese and USA military officials have recently made a decision to sit down and try to mend fences in order to cool down the growing tension between two of the world's superpowers.

Speaking to reporters traveling with him earlier this week, Mattis acknowledged that the relationship has been hard in recent times.

"The US is keen to develop military-to-military relations, and [we] think increasing cooperation is the only reasonable way to develop the relations".

A long-running point of contention between the two countries is China's ongoing militarization of artificial islands in the South China Sea, one of the world's most important sea lanes.

The proposal - which would be the first such exercise involving the USA and all 10 ASEAN countries - has already been approved by ASEAN defence officials, according to ASEAN sources.

Military-to-military ties have always been one of the more fragile parts of the overall U.S.

US officials may, however, be alarmed that traditional allies in Southeast Asia appear to be drawing closer to China, at a time when concern is already growing in Asia about American commitment to the region under US President Donald Trump.

China expressed disappointment to Mattis on Thursday over that decision, Schriver said.

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