US sees door open to China talks, cites concerns over Myanmar

  • Myanmar
  • Saturday, 15 Apr 2023

WASHINGTON/YANGON, April 15 (Bloomberg): The Biden administration believes there is still room to open up a dialog and collaborate with Beijing on pressing global matters despite rising tensions over issues such as Taiwan, a senior US official said.

"There’s hopefully some room for cooperation still in the relationship,” State Department Counselor Derek Chollet said in an interview Friday in Singapore.

Chollet cited climate change and Myanmar as two areas where Beijing and Washington could work together.

But while the US is prepared to engage with China over the deteriorating situation inside the South-East Asian nation, he said officials haven’t had much luck broaching the topic with Beijing.

"We both think we have some shared interests at stake in terms of stability in Myanmar, but that’s not something they’ve been willing to talk to us about,” he said. "We’rr more than open and willing to engage” with China.

Chollet’s remarks come days after reports that the military regime in Myanmar carried out air-strikes in the Sagaing region that killed dozens of people, an attack the US said underscores the junta’s "disregard for human life.”

The US is weighing sanctions on Myanmar’s state-owned oil and gas company to choke funding to the nation’s military regime, people with direct knowledge of the matter have said.

When asked about the possibility of further sanctions against the regime, Chollet said it was something "we’re constantly talking to our partners about and looking at ourselves,” he said. "There’s no question they generate a lot of money from energy.”

Chollet is in Singapore to meet with senior officials to discuss the bilateral strategic partnership as well efforts to ensure peace in the Indo-Pacific region. He will continue on to South Korea, arriving soon after after Pyongyang said it tested a new solid-fuel ICBM.

The Biden administration is seeking to bolster its status as an indispensable security partner to Southeast Asian countries amid growing concerns over Chinese claims to disputed areas in the South China Sea, a key transit area for trade and a major source of oil and gas.

Aside from Myanmar, Chollet said that Russia’s war in Ukraine would be a "big issue” in Japan when it hosts top diplomats from Group of Seven nations next month.

The US will press the need for allies to coordinate against economic coercion at the meeting, with China also set to be a key focus of discussions. - Bloomberg

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