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Тисячі людей в Іспанії вимагали від уряду дозволити в’їзд більшій кількості біженців

Близько 160 тисяч людей взяли участь 18 лютого в мітингу в іспанському місті Барселона з вимогою до уряду дозволити в’їзд в країну більшій кількості біженців з охоплених війною країн.

Протестувальники розгорнули у центрі міста великий прапор із закликами «Годі відмовок! Прийміть їх зараз» та «Ні смертям, відкрийте кордони».

Акція була організована групою, що називає себе «Наш дім – ваш дім».

Фото зі сторінки мера Барселони Ади Коляу у Twitter

Хоча влада оцінила кількість протестувальників у 160 тисяч, організатори заявили, що їх було щонайменше 300 тисяч.

У 2015 році іспанський уряд зобов’язався прийняти понад 17 тисяч біженців протягом двох років. Але досі країна дала притулок лише близько 1100 біженцям.

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Бойовики з «градів» обстріляли позиції ЗСУ біля Водяного – штаб АТО

У прес-центрі штабу АТО в суботу повідомили, що підтримувані Росією бойовики на Донбасі ввечері із важкого озброєння обстріляли позиції ЗСУ біля Водяного на Донеччині. Про це йдеться в повідомленні штабу на сторінці у Facebook.

«Сьогодні російсько-окупаційні війська у черговий раз порушили мінські домовленості. Близько 21:00 години позиції українських військ поблизу населеного пункту Водяне, що на маріупольському напрямку, були обстріляні із застосуванням реактивних систем залпового вогню БМ-21 «Град», – йдеться в повідомленні.

За даними штабу, під час обстрілу бойовики випустили в бік українських військових щонайменше три десятка реактивних снарядів.

Повідомляється, що обстріл тривав 30 хвилин.

Сайти сепаратистів про обстріли в районі Водяного нічого не повідомляють.

Також у штабі підтвердили інформацію про проблеми з електрикою в Авдіївці, яку за даними штабу АТО, бойовики упродовж дня обстрілювали з танків та мінометів. Військові стверджують, що поступово знижується температура в системі опалення міста, а мобільний зв’язок працює із перебоями.

Донецькі сепаратисти раніше заявляли, що в результаті обстрілів з боку українських військових біля Ясинуватої, що за 12 кілометрів від Авдіївки, було пошкоджено насосну станцію.

Контактна група зі врегулювання ситуації на Донбасі неодноразово оголошувала режим тиші на сході України, проте обстріли тривають, а сторони конфлікту звинувачують одна одну в порушенні перемир’я.

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Latest Terror Attack Deepens Divide Between Pakistan, Afghanistan

Pakistan has closed its border with Afghanistan, fired a barrage of artillery into its neighbor’s territory and staged a major domestic crackdown on militant groups, reportedly killing more than 100 suspects, in response to the deadliest terror attack in the country in years.

It was the latest in a series of deadly attacks in both nations that have been claimed by Islamic State. That could provide grounds for a united fight against terrorism but instead seems to be pushing the two countries apart in a flurry of accusations that each side is harboring groups responsible for cross-border attacks.

Thursday’s suicide bombings hit one of Pakistan’s most revered Sufi shrines, killing at least 72 people and injuring scores more.

Scenes of the carnage in Sindh province sent shock waves up through the Pakistani government. It blamed the Jama-ul-Ahrar group, operating out of Afghanistan, for being “behind these barbaric acts of terrorism,” according to a statement from the office of Sartaj Aziz, adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on foreign affairs. Pakistan said it lodged a strong protest with Afghanistan.

The two countries have swapped accusations that not enough has been done to root out extremists launching cross-border attacks from both sides.

According to the statement from his office, Aziz spoke by phone with Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar, saying the fight against terrorism requires close cooperation, particularly in policing the border.

Aziz expressed “serious concern” that Afghanistan had not paid heed to Pakistan’s repeated calls for action against Jama-ul-Ahrar.

‘Effective strategies’ needed

Atmar’s office said he condemned such “abhorrent” attacks on civilians, and pointed out that Islamic State has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in Afghanistan.

“Both countries must maintain strong and transparent commitments to preventing such groups from operating on their soil,” Atmar’s office said in a statement. “We must find and execute effective strategies to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries wherever they exist.”

But Pakistan was clearly in no mood to talk cooperation on this day and only wanted immediate results.

In an unusual move, Afghan embassy officials were summoned to the army’s headquarters in Rawalpindi – not to the Foreign Office in Islamabad – and given a list of 76 “most wanted” terrorists that Pakistan wants apprehended immediately and handed over.

Security forces have been given special orders to maintain strict vigilance all along the border, according to a statement by the Pakistani military’s media wing.

“The border has been closed since last night due to security reasons. No cross-border or unauthorized entry will be allowed into Pakistan from Afghanistan,” the statement said.

Shah Hussain Murtazawi, spokesman for Afghanistan’s deputy president, lamented the decision, telling VOA: “Closing borders does not solve the problems.”

Major border crossings at Spin Boldak in the south and Torkham in the north were closed, with troops standing guard. U.S.-led NATO forces heavily depend on both for their logistics supply in Afghanistan. Long lines of trucks and cars were backed up on both sides, hoping the closure would be short.

False sense of security blamed

Tasneem Noorani, a former Pakistani interior secretary and analyst, said the government was under pressure to take action.

“I think in the present situation, government’s reaction is in the right direction,” he said. “At least [people] would see that authorities are doing something.”

Noorani said the government may have been lulled into a false sense of security by a relative calm over the last few months following an aggressive stance toward terrorists over the previous two years.

“The government and military might have thought that [terrorists] gave up [their activities],” Noorani said. “In fact, that was not the case.”

The U.S. State Department strongly condemned the attack and offered Pakistan support in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

“Today’s attack is only the latest in a series of violent acts this past week in Lahore, Balochistan, Peshawar and Mohmand Agency,” it said in a statement. “We stand with the people of Pakistan in their fight against terrorism and remain committed to the security of the South Asia region.”

The military statement said the army chief had ordered security operations against terrorists across the country that already had killed more than 100 suspected militants. In addition, retaliatory strikes were carried out in Afghan villages across the border.

“The intelligence agencies are making progress to unearth networks behind the recent terrorism incidents,” the statement said.

However, politicians, defense analysts and columnists expressed reservations over the military actions, calling it an “emotional” response.

Syed Iftikhar ul Hassan, a member of the National Assembly from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (N), suggested that the terror attacks have a bigger purpose as part of a “conspiracy against the government” to halt army operations against militants and to derail a planned “Economic Corridor with China.”

“There was a huge network that is being fixed and soon things will be all right,” he said.

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Activists Urge Australia to Dump Controversial US Refugee Deal

Protesters have rallied in the Australian city of Melbourne to oppose a deal to send refugees held in offshore migrant camps to the United States.  The agreement was struck last November with the Obama administration.  Its future is unclear after President Trump called it a “dumb deal.”

Under the agreement, about 1,250 refugees from Australian-sponsored offshore detention centers in Papua New Guinea and Nauru would be resettled in the United States.  Most are from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq.  The government in Canberra has refused to allow their entry under strict border security measures, which prevent asylum seekers who arrive by boat from being resettled in Australia.  The agreement with Washington is to be overseen by the United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR.

Hundreds of demonstrators have gathered in Melbourne to voice their opposition to the deal.  They argue that hundreds of refugees would be left out of the plan, which has no specific time-frame.

‘Australia’s responsibility’

Chris Breen from the Refugee Action Collective in Melbourne is urging Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to allow the refugees to resettle in Australia.

“Ultimately these refugees are Australia’s responsibility.  They came seeking asylum in Australia, so we are today calling on the Turnbull government to bring those refugees here.  We are saying the United States deal is not a solution,” Breen said.

The future of the refugee deal is, however, uncertain.  Earlier this month, President Donald Trump tweeted that he would “study this dumb deal.”  At the time, The Washington Post reported that in a phone call Trump accused the Australian prime minister of trying to export what he called the “next Boston bombers” to America.

Australia sponsors two offshore processing camps in the South Pacific as part of its policy of trying to stop asylum seekers reaching its territorial waters by boat.  Ministers have insisted it is a deterrent and dissuades migrants from risking their lives in hostile seas.  Campaigners, though, have described conditions in the camps as “hellish” and want them closed down.

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UN Rights Chief Urges Myanmar Leader to Ease Plight of Rohingya

The U.N.’s top human rights official, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, is urging Myanmar’s leader, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, to use her moral authority to ease the plight of the country’s disenfranchised Rohingya community.

Aung San Suu Kyi has come under mounting criticism from the international community for her failure to speak out on behalf of the Rohingya, a persecuted Muslim minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.  

But there are signs this may be changing, says  Ravina Shamdasani is spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.  

She told VOA the High Commissioner spoke personally to Aung San Suu Kyi by phone earlier this month.  This call took place after the release of an investigative report that documents alleged atrocities committed by Myanmar’s military against the Rohingya.

“She [Aung San Suu Kyi] was quite shocked to hear the details of these findings and she said that she would have to initiate an investigation. They would need more evidence. The High Commissioner asked her to use all her moral standing to bring this counterinsurgency operation to an end.”

 

About 69,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since October 9, following an oppressive military operation in Rakhine State.  U.N. investigators interviewed 220 of these people who described acts of unbearable cruelty, including mass gang-rapes, killings and disappearances.

Shamdasani says the High Commissioner understands the new government has a difficult balancing act in this period of transition.  But, she added he believes the violence and suffering of the Rohingya has reached unprecedented levels.

“It is very important that people here signal from the very top that this kind of behavior is not acceptable and that there will be accountability…. It may be too soon to say whether this will be the ultimate breakthrough for the Rohingya in Myanmar, but we believe it is heading in that direction.  There is a momentum towards a breakthrough on this issue,” Shamdasani said.  

In what could be a harbinger of better things to come for the Rohingya, Myanmar has ended its military operation in Rakhine State this week.

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У Харкові через стрілянину затримані 9 осіб – поліція

У Харкові ввечері 17 лютого сталася стрілянина, за результатами інциденту поліцейські затримали 9 осіб, у них вилучили зброю. Про це вночі 18 лютого повідомив відділ комунікації поліції Харківської області.

Поліцейські підтвердили, що внаслідок стрілянини є поранений.

«Постраждалого доставлено до лікарні. Наразі стан його здоров’я задовільний. За попередніми даними, постріл було скоєно з мисливської зброї», – розповіли у поліції.

Для встановлення обставин події на місце виїжджали 8 нарядів патрульної служби та слідчо-оперативна група Шевченківського відділу поліції міста Харкова.

Відео з Youtube-каналу Головного управління Національної поліції в Харківській області

«У приміщенні дитячого садочка, де сховалися винуватці стрілянини, відбувся огляд. Там можна помітити невеликі пошкодження, зокрема розбито скло. Яких-небудь руйнувань у дитячому садочку немає. Також підтверджень того, що там зводилися барикади, немає. Вони там перебували упродовж нетривалого періоду часу, оскількі патрульні, які оперативно з’явилися на місці пригоди, зуміли завадити їм створити барикади, затримавши зловмисників. Але чи хотіли вони їх створювати, ще неясно. Спротиву не було, тому в результаті затримання ні правоохоронці, ні люди у камуфляжі не постраждали», – повідомив начальник слідчого управління поліції в Харківській області Володимир Тимошко.

Перед офіційним повідомленням у соціальних мережах з’явилася суперечлива інформація, що конфлікт між двома групами людей виник щодо ставлення до акції з блокади залізниці на Донбасі. Із заявами щодо цього інциденту виступали представники «Внутрішнього корпусу батальйону «Донбас» і «Східного корпусу».

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На Донбасі поранені четверо українських воїнів – штаб

Четверо українських військових поранені в зоні бойових дій 17 лютого, інформує штаб української воєнної операції на Донбасі. За цим повідомленням, підтримувані Росією бойовики за добу здійснили 73 обстріли позицій Збройних сил України.

Під Донецьком у районі Авдіївки бойовики неодноразово стріляли зі 120-міліметрових мінометів, танка, гранатометів, великокаліберних кулеметів та стрілецької зброї, ідеться в ранковому зведенні. Під обстрілом опинився і сам населений пункт Авдіївка, двох цивільних поранено, повідомляє штаб АТО.

На Маріупольському напрямку зі 122-міліметрової артилерії сепаратисти обстріляли Павлопіль, із мінометів різних калібрів – Красногорівку, Новогригорівку, Старогнатівку та Павлопіль, твердять українські військові.

На Луганському напрямку зі 120-міліметрових мінометів та протитанкових ракетних комплексів бойовики стріляли по Кримському, а з гранатометів – по Новоолександрівці, Новозванівці та Катеринівці, ідеться в повідомленні штабу АТО.

В угрупованні «ДНР» українських військових звинувачують в обстрілах околиць Донецька та Горлівки, а також півдня контрольованої сепаратистами території.

В угрупованні «ЛНР» нарахували 17 лютого чотири обстріли своїх позиції з боку ЗСУ – в районі сіл Логвинове, Калинове й Калинівка.

Контактна група зі врегулювання ситуації на Донбасі неодноразово оголошувала режим тиші на сході України, проте обстріли тривають, а сторони конфлікту звинувачують одна одну в порушенні перемир’я.

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Chinese Industry’s Rapid Robotization

Most experts agree that we are past the dawn of robotic age, and one of the countries strongly pushing to the forefront is China. As the cost of human labor in China is rising, factories are increasingly replacing production line workers with robots. VOA’s George Putic reports.

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Wave of Terrorist Attacks Leaves Pakistan on Edge

Pakistan has seen a wave of terrorist attacks in the past week. The biggest one, an attack on a Sufi shrine Thursday left at least 80 people dead. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem looks at the significance of the timing and what these attacks mean for Pakistan’s efforts to eliminate terrorism.

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Second Autopsy Done, Fourth Person Arrested in Malaysia 

Malaysia performed a second autopsy on the estranged half brother of North Korea’s leader because the first procedure was inconclusive, piling on the intrigue surrounding what appeared to be a well-executed assassination at an airport in Kuala Lumpur, an official said Saturday. Police arrested a fourth suspect, identified as a North Korean man. 

 

The second autopsy clearly enraged North Korea, which has vowed to reject the results of any post-mortem and demanded that Malaysia turn over the body immediately. 

Speaking to reporters outside the morgue late Friday, Pyongyang’s ambassador said Malaysian officials may be “trying to conceal something” and “colluding with hostile forces.” 

Inconclusive autopsy 

A Malaysian official with knowledge of the investigation confirmed the second autopsy started Friday night and said that the results of the first one were inconclusive. He asked that his name not be used because he is not authorized to speak to the media. 

 

The inconclusive autopsy results raise questions about the mysterious death of Kim Jong Nam, but a lack of closure and a lingering sense of the unknown aren’t unusual when it comes to North Korea. While South Korea has blamed North Korea for a slew of notable assassinations or attempted killings in past decades, the North often denies involvement or simply doesn’t comment. 

 

Malaysia has arrested four people so far, the lastest a man carrying an ID that identified him as 46-year-old Ri Jong Chol. He was picked up Friday night. 

 

Authorities were still trying to piece together details of the case. 

 

Kim Jong Nam, who was 45 or 46 and had lived in exile for years, suddenly fell ill at the Kuala Lumpur airport Monday as he waited for a flight home to Macau. Dizzy and in pain, he told medical workers at the airport he had been sprayed with a chemical. He died while being taken to a hospital. 

 

South Korea has accused its enemies in North Korea of dispatching a hit squad to kill Kim Jong Nam, saying two female assassins poisoned him and then fled in a taxi. 

One suspect duped, police say 

On Friday, Indonesia’s police chief said an Indonesian woman arrested for suspected involvement in the killing was duped into thinking she was part of a comedy show prank. 

 

Indonesian police chief Tito Karnavian, citing information received from Malaysian authorities, told reporters in Indonesia’s Aceh province that Siti Aisyah, 25, was paid to be involved in “Just For Laughs” style pranks, a reference to a popular hidden camera show. He said she and another woman performed stunts that involved convincing men to close their eyes and then spraying them with water. 

 

“Such an action was done three or four times and they were given a few dollars for it, and with the last target, Kim Jong Nam, allegedly there were dangerous materials in the sprayer,” Karnavian said. “She was not aware that it was an assassination attempt by alleged foreign agents.” 

 

Malaysian police were questioning four suspects: Aisyah, another woman who carried a Vietnamese passport; a man they said is Aisyah’s boyfriend; and the North Korean man.

North breaks silence 

North Korea broke its silence on the case Friday night. Speaking to reporters gathered outside the morgue in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, North Korean Ambassador Kang Chol said Malaysia conducted the autopsy on Kim Jong Nam “unilaterally and excluding our attendance.” 

 

“We will categorically reject the result of the post-mortem,” Kang said, adding that the move disregarded “elementary international laws and consular laws.” 

 

Kang said the fact that Malaysia has yet to hand over the body “strongly suggests that the Malaysian side is trying to conceal something which needs more time and deceive us, and that they are colluding with the hostile forces towards us who are desperate to harm us.” 

 

Malaysia is one of just a handful of countries to have full diplomatic ties with North Korea, with each country having an embassy in the other’s capital. Malaysia has also been a key place for quiet, semi-official “track 2” diplomatic talks between North Korea and with the United States. 

 

Malaysia said Friday it wants DNA samples from Kim Jong Nam’s family as part of the post-mortem procedure and that officials were not yet willing to hand the body over to the North Koreans. Although Kim Jong Nam is believed to have two sons and a daughter with two women living in Beijing and Macau, police in Malaysia say none has come forward to claim the body or provide DNA samples. 

 

“If there is no claim by next-of-kin and upon exhausting all avenues (to obtain DNA), we will finally then hand over the body to the (North Korean) embassy,” said Abdul Samah Mat, a senior Malaysian police official. He would not say how long that process might take. 

 

Kim Jong Nam was estranged from his younger half brother, the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. He reportedly fell out of favor with their father, the late Kim Jong Il, in 2001, when he was caught trying to enter Japan on a false passport to visit Tokyo Disneyland. 

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US Hesitates in Confirming Whether Sanctioned Iranian General Visited Russia

The Trump administration says it cannot confirm that an Iranian general barred from foreign travel by the U.N. Security Council visited Russia this week, despite a prominent U.S. congressman and news outlet saying he had made the trip.

In an emailed response to a VOA Persian query Friday, a U.S. State Department official who requested anonymity said the administration is aware of media reports about recent travel to Russia by General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the special operations Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

“We’re not in a position to confirm the travel ourselves at this time,” the official said. “As with previous reports of similar travel, the U.N. travel ban on Soleimani remains in effect, so such travel, if confirmed, would be a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and, thus, a serious matter of concern to the United States and members of the U.N. Security Council.”

Congressman doesn’t hesitate

Republican Congressman Ed Royce, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed no such hesitation when speaking about Soleimani on Thursday to U.S. television network Fox News. He said the Iranian general “was just caught in Moscow violating existing sanctions on his travel.”

A day earlier, a Fox News online report cited “multiple Western intelligence officials with direct knowledge of (Soleimani’s) visit” as saying that the Iranian general “arrived in Terminal A of Vnukovo airport outside Moscow on February 14 on Mahan Air WD084 at 12:13 p.m. local time and was scheduled to remain in Russia for a few days for meetings.”

Royce said “it is the third time” that Soleimani has visited Russia since the U.N. Security Council approved resolution 2231 endorsing Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers July 20, 2015.

A spokesman for Royce did not respond to a VOA email asking for the source of the lawmaker’s information about the Iranian general, whom the lawmaker accused of being responsible for the deaths of about 500 U.S. military personnel in Iraq by leading a Quds Force effort to supply weapons to anti-American Iraqi Shi’ite militants.

The UN resolution

Section 6 (e) of resolution 2231’s Annex B calls on all states to “take the necessary measures to prevent the entry into or transit through their territories of individuals” designated by the council as having engaged in illicit activities — a designation it had given to Soleimani in the past.

Western media have quoted sources as saying Soleimani visited Russia July 24, 2015, days after resolution 2231’s adoption, and made a second trip April 14, 2016. 

Jeffrey Feltman, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, notified the Security Council last July of “possible foreign travel” by Soleimani “contrary to the provisions” of resolution 2231.

Congressman calls for sanctions

Royce said he had obtained photographs of Soleimani’s previously reported visits to Moscow and criticized the Obama administration as being weak for not confirming that the trips had happened and that the U.N.’s travel ban had been violated.

He called on the Trump administration to respond to Soleimni’s latest reported Russia trip by imposing new sanctions barring companies from doing business in Iran.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced its first sanctions against Iran since taking office in January. It froze any property or funds held by 13 Iranian individuals and 12 companies under U.S. jurisdiction, in retaliation for Iran’s January 29 ballistic missile test that Washington criticized as undermining regional security and putting American lives at risk.

There has been no word from the White House of any additional Iran sanctions under consideration.

Fox News reported that Soleimani was in Moscow this week to express displeasure with Russia’s recent military and economic overtures to Saudi Arabia and other Arab states that Iran sees as rivals for regional influence.

But former U.S. intelligence officer Paul Pillar, now a security studies analyst at Georgetown University, told VOA Persian it is incorrect to presume that Soleimani was in Moscow to communicate Iran’s resentment about Russian relations with Arab nations.

“The focus (of the trip) obviously would be on events in Syria, where both Russia and Iran, especially the IRGC headed by General Soleimani, are heavily involved in the effort to shore up the position of the Assad regime,” Pillar said.

The Iranian defense ministry’s news agency published photos of Soleimani attending a ceremony in Tehran on Thursday, two days after his reported arrival in Moscow. The website’s homepage initially said it had posted the photos “in response to U.S. claims” about the general, but it later removed that language.

The Russian embassy in Washington did not respond to a VOA request to confirm or deny that Soleimani was in Moscow this week. Russia and Iran both have denied the previous reports of Soleimani traveling to Moscow.

Additional reporting by Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Steve Herman, Hooman Bakhtiar of VOA’s Persian Service and Mehdi Jedinia of VOA’s Extremism Watch Desk.

 

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US Readout of Top Diplomats’ First Meeting Signals Priorities Set by President

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday raised the need to “create a level playing field for trade and investment” in his first meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, according to the State Department.

In the readout by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, both had agreed to “strengthen cooperation in the fields of economy, finance and security,” seen by some as much diluted wording.

Both met for about an hour on the sidelines of a meeting of foreign ministers of the G-20 top economies in Bonn, Germany.

“So nice to see you,” Tillerson said as he shook Wang’s hand, while apologizing for keeping Wang waiting. The top diplomat for the U.S. was late because of another sideline meeting about Syria.

China criticized as a ‘cheater’

While in many ways this seems typical of prior meetings of foreign ministers between Washington and Beijing, it is “unusual” for a secretary of state to advocate the need for a fair playing field in commerce, according to Bonnie Glaser, the director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“That signals the priority this set of issues is accorded by President Trump,” Glaser told VOA on Friday.  

President Donald Trump has bluntly criticized China as a “cheater” and a currency manipulator, accusing it of unfair practices that have blocked many U.S. exports, and producing a trade imbalance that has killed American jobs.  

Trump also has threatened to impose a comprehensive tax on Chinese imports.

‘One-China policy’

In the Chinese readout, Beijing said, “The U.S. side made it clear that it would continue to adhere to the one-China policy,” which is absent in the State Department’s readout.  

“There is the classic testing of intentions on big issues, to get a quick read where the other stands,” said Center for the National Interest Director of Defense Studies Harry Kazianis.

“They set the foundation for the future and are critically important,” Kazianis added.

China pressed over North Korea

Notably, North Korea’s threats are both highlighted by Tillerson and his Chinese counterpart. Washington pressed Beijing to help assert more control over North Korea after a series of nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

Acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Friday in Bonn that Tillerson “urged China to use all available tools to moderate North Korea’s destabilizing behavior.”

North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan on February 12, followed by strong international condemnation, including that of the U.N. Security Council.  

Wang told Tillerson the U.S. and China have joint responsibilities to maintain global stability, adding common interests between the two countries far outweigh their differences.

One of the channels to manage U.S.-China relations is the bilateral Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), an annual high-level gathering for two countries to discuss a wide range of regional and global issues.

It started under the George W. Bush administration as the Strategic Economic Dialogue and was later upgraded by former President Barack Obama after he took office.

A different approach

Some regional scholars expect the Trump administration to veer from the long-standing U.S. approach, though, and downsize such a mechanism, or even end it.

“I would be somewhat surprised if the S&ED has any future,” Atlantic Council resident senior fellow Robert Manning told VOA.

“It has become a somewhat hollow bureaucratic ritual, a checklist for the vast sweep of U.S.-China bilateral issues,” said Manning, adding the “structure and content” of relations between Washington and Beijing is “at a tipping point.”

Manning said the key is to identify a few core issues that can define the character of the relationship. “Finding a formula for reciprocity is key to a sustainable economic relationship,” he said.  

A change in S&ED

Proponents of continuing the S&ED said it mobilizes bureaucracies on both sides, promotes interagency coordination, and helps to increase cooperation in areas where the U.S. and China have shared interests.  

“My guess is that it will continue in some form, but will be much smaller and policy-focused,” said Glaser.  

“This administration wants to see progress on a much more fair trade relationship,” said Kazianis, adding “if Beijing is willing to work toward a more equitable and fair trade relationship, I would assume this would continue. If not, it could very well be downsized or disregarded all together.”

The first year will be rocky and it may be until June before there is a functioning policy process, given the chaos in the White House and State Department, according to Manning.  

Tillerson’s deputy and many senior positions at the State Department have yet to be filled.