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Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attend the opening ceremony of the 6th China-U.S. Security and Economic Dialogue and 5th round of China-U.S. High Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange at Diaoyutai State Guest House on July 9 in Beijing. / Feng Li, Getty Images

BEIJING - China's Communist Party leader Xi Jinping and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry vowed better economic and security cooperation Wednesday as the two countries held the latest in a series of talks designed to improve their often difficult relationship.

Amid the positive rhetoric lay several reminders of the distrust and friction that characterize ties between the world's top two economies.

"Let me emphasize to you today: the U.S. does not seek to contain China," said Kerry, addressing a widely held belief in China that the USA is determined to restrict China's rise.

Xi warned that the USA must respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and insisted that China is committed to "peaceful development."

Washington, and several of China's neighbors, have criticized Beijing for taking an increasingly aggressive stance on maritime claims far from China's coastline that are challenged by multiple nations.

Those disputes are among many tough issues to be discussed at the two-day China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue that began Wednesday at the Diaoyutai state guesthouse in western Beijing.

Kerry and U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew are President Obama's special representatives at talks also attended by Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen and three other Obama Cabinet members. The dialogue, which alternates between the two countries, is now in its sixth round but boasts few major accomplishments to date.

U.S. officials have previously argued it remains a vital channel for communication on issues ranging from climate change to the value of the Chinese yuan, which Washington says is under-valued to help Chinese firms. Another difficult topic will be cybersecurity after the United States charged five Chinese military officers in May with hacking U.S. companies.

In a reminder of China's restrictions on human rights, which Kerry is expected to raise, Beijing-based Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser said she and her husband had been placed under house arrest after receiving an invite to dinner at the U.S. Embassy, possibly with Kerry, the Associated Press reported.

Senior U.S. officials visiting China throughout the past three decades have experienced similar problems meeting people who express dissenting opinions. Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, say Xi has cracked down hard on dissidents, civil society and the Internet since he came to power in 2012.

"China-U.S. relations are just like a couple, and their quarreling and ups and downs are a normal phenomenon," wrote Wang Gudao, a doctor in eastern Anhui province, on the Sina Weibo microblog Tuesday. "All in all, whatever they do is to uphold their country's own interests."



Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: U.S., China begin high-level talks on tough issues

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