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    Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) talks with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on March 18, 2017 in Beijing, China

    'Too Much Dissent': Why the US Should Cross Its Fingers for Tillerson in China

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    Given the array of unresolved differences between Beijing and Washington, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to China will certainly be of paramount importance to the future of bilateral relations, Russian Far East Institute expert Alexander Larin told Sputnik.

    In an interview with Sputnik, Russian Far East Institute expert Alexander Larin specifically underscored the importance of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's current visit to China, which he said is happening as the parties hope to settle the vast differences between Beijing and Washington regarding a wide array of pressing issues.

    These include the development of bilateral trade relations, a territorial spat over the South China Sea and the situation on the Korean Peninsula amid North Korea's ballistic missile tests and the deployment of elements of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system in South Korea.

    As for Tillerson, he has already arrived in China with a two-day visit scheduled for the final leg of his first official trip to Asia.

    Earlier, he visited South Korea, where he said, in particular, that the United States' strategic patience with North Korea has ended, and warned that "all options are on the table" in dealing with Pyongyang, including a military intervention.

    "We do not want for things to lead to a military conflict, we're quite clear of that in our communications. But obviously if North Korea takes actions that threaten South Korean forces or our own forces, then that will be met with an appropriate response," Tillerson said.

    He vowed that the military option is on the table "if they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action."

    Tillerson also urged China on Friday to refrain from creating economic policies which could hinder South Korea's deployment of the THAAD missile system.

    "While we acknowledge China's opposition, its economic retaliation against South Korea is inappropriate and troubling. We ask China to refrain from such actions," Tillerson said during a press conference following his talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.

    Tillerson continued by calling on Chinese authorities to react to "the escalating threat from North Korea," which necessitates the need for a THAAD location on the Korean Peninsula.

    On March 8, components for the THAAD system began to arrive in South Korea as Seoul wanted the system to be deployed rapidly in response to the threat from North Korea’s ballistic missile tests.

    Seoul and Washington first agreed to deploy THAAD in July 2016. The system is designed to intercept short, medium and intermediate ballistic missiles during the terminal incoming stage.

    The move prompted strong criticism from Beijing, which enacted economic policies in protest. China's retaliation resulted in the temporary suspension of tour package sales to South Koreans.

    Similarly, China has reportedly boycotted some South Korean products, including those of Lotte Group, the conglomerate which sold one of its golf courses to the South Korean government for the defense system.

    Tillerson has, meanwhile, also refused to rule out the nuclearization of US allies in Asia in order to address the nuclear threat posed by North Korea.

    "Nothing has been taken off the table," Tillerson said in an interview with Fox News when asked if he would rule out nuclearization of US allies in the region.

    His statements came after US President Donald Trump tweeted that Chinese authorities have done little to help the United States address the threat posed by the North Korean nuclear program.

    Commenting on all this, Chinese political analyst Jia Lie Ying told Sputnik that Tillerson's visit to China is expected to contribute substantially to the development of bilateral relations.

    He recalled that the visit comes amid increasing tensions in Northeast Asia after North Korea's missile tests, the international sanctions on Pyongyang, the killing of Kim Jong Nam, half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as well as the resignation of South Korea President Park Geun Hye and the THAAD's deployment to South Korea.

    "Tillerson's current visit to China is aimed at restarting the various vectors of China's engagement with the United States. I believe that China-US relations are of importance to both sides and the whole world," Jia Lie Ying said.

    He expressed hope that the Beijing-Washington ties, as a new type of relationship between major powers will be consistently developed and will avoid conflicts and confrontation."

    'Tillerson's visit to China will promote the development of bilateral relations in this direction," he said, citing the 40-year history of diplomatic relations between the United States and China.

    Speaking to Sputnik, Russian Far East Institute expert Alexander Larin said, for his part, said that China reacts angrily to the deployment of elements of the THAAD missile system in South Korea, which is why it will be hard for Tillerson to arrive at a consensus with Beijing.

    "There is too much dissent between the two sides pertaining, in particular, to the South China Sea, THAAD and bilateral trade, something that should prompt them to try to reach a compromise. They have no other choice than to live in peace given their closest economic and geopolitical relations," Larin said.

    He added that "otherwise, events with completely unpredictable consequences may take place. So they will have to reach a consensus and Tillerson, apparently, will make the first steps in this direction."

    Larin said that "there are unlikely to be any breakthroughs because this is not the right stage in the development of bilateral relations."

    "But, he added, there will be no failures either, because both sides are poised to bolster to settle the relations, find some common ground and thus pave the way for future meetings between the Chinese and US leaders."

    Viktor Supyan, deputy director of the Moscow-based Institute for US and Canadian Studies, told Sputnik that close economic ties between the US and China remain the "red line" that the sides will never cross no matter how acute their political standoff becomes.

    "There is an economic component which plays a huge role for both countries and which outweighs all other relevant issues. All the more so that China behaves very carefully and does not interfere in any international conflicts, where the US presence can be tracked," Supyan said.

    Analysts have, meanwhile, said that Tillerson's visit to China will be a good opportunity for Beijing to find out President Trump's true intentions regarding China, as well as the degree of possible compromises in the political sphere.

    While in Beijing, Tillerson is also expected to prepare a meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, scheduled for April 6-7 in the estate of the US President in Florida.

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    consensus, consequences, confrontation, standoff, visit, development, relations, THAAD, Rex Tillerson, China, United States
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