Top Obama officials meet China state councilor in New York
President Barack Obama waves as he walks on stage to speak at Capital University Field House in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. Obama is kicking off a week of campaigning for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with a stop in battleground Ohio.
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Top Obama officials meet China state councilor in New York

Matthew Pennington (Associated Press) - November 2, 2016 - 8:15am
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry and national security adviser Susan Rice held talks Tuesday with a senior Chinese official on managing differences and expanding cooperation between the two world powers.
A White House statement provided few details about the meeting with State Councilor Yang Jiechi in New York. National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said the two sides "reviewed progress in bringing about a more durable, stable and productive bilateral relationship."
The Obama administration has forged cooperation with Beijing on issues such as climate change, but as it enters its final months in office, there are growing signs of strain in bilateral relations amid tensions in the South China Sea and provocations by China ally North Korea.
U.S. officials said the low-key meeting was probably the last opportunity for extended, top-level discussions with China before a new U.S. administration take office in January. Yang is a familiar Chinese interlocutor for Washington. He has also served as China's foreign minister and ambassador to the U.S.
China's embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
President Barack Obama has made a sustained push to increase U.S. engagement in the Asia-Pacific. That's been viewed by China as an attempt to contain its rise as a military and economic power.
U.S. officials have expressed growing frustration that China, which agreed to tough U.N. sanctions against North Korea in March, is still importing large amounts of coal from its unpredictable ally. Potentially, that provides a vital source of revenue for Kim Jong Un's government that could aid its weapons development.
North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and 24 missile tests this year, demonstrating its progress toward its stated goal of being able to strike the U.S. with nuclear-tipped missiles.
The U.S. outreach into Asia has also suffered recent setbacks as the Philippines and Malaysia, which had grown closer to Washington during Obama's presidency, have sought closer ties with China. Leaders of both Southeast Asian nations have made high-profile trips to Beijing in the past two weeks.
State Department spokesman John Kirby pushed back Tuesday against perceptions that the U.S. was losing friends in the region.
"We have nothing to fear from the peaceful, productive rise of China and we have nothing to fear from nations establishing better and warmer and more productive relationships with China," he told reporters.

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