AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
BEIJING: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Beijing next week, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported today, amid growing tensions over regional territorial disputes.
Clinton will hold talks with her counterpart Yang Jiechi and other Chinese leaders during the September 4-5 visit, Xinhua said, citing a foreign ministry spokesman.
“The two sides will exchange views on China-US relations and other issues of common concern,” spokesman Hong Lei said, but gave no further details. Her visit comes as tensions bubble between China and other Asian countries over territory in the resource-rich South China Sea. China and Taiwan both claim nearly all of the sea, while Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei each have often overlapping claims to parts of it.
Beijing is also locked in a dispute with Tokyo, a key US ally, over a disputed East China Sea island chain.
The United States is eager to boost diplomatic and military resources in the Asia-Pacific region, which it recognises as a key driver in the global economy, as its engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan winds down.
However, some aspects — such as US plans to deploy 2,500 Marines to northern Australia and boost its naval presence in the Pacific — have rankled China, which has increased its military spending in recent years.
The visit will be Clinton’s first to China since she attended a strategic and economic dialogue in Beijing in May that was largely overshadowed by the flight of the blind rights activist Chen Guangcheng into the US embassy.