China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi says hopes to manage disputes with US

State Councillor Yang said that the United States and China have broad common interests and great potential for cooperation. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (Reuters) - China hopes it can work with the United States to manage and control disputes and sensitive problems, China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi told Michael Flynn, US President Donald Trump's National Security Advisor, on Friday.

State Councillor Yang, who outranks the foreign minister, told Flynn that the two countries have broad common interests and great potential for cooperation, China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement after their telephone call.

"China hopes that the new US government can work hard together with China, to strengthen high level and other exchanges, maintain the political basis for bilateral relations, expand cooperation bilaterally, regionally and globally in all areas, manage and control disputes and sensitive issues," the statement paraphrased Yang as saying.

The two also exchanged views on regional issues, the statement said, without giving details.

There was no mention in the brief Chinese statement of areas of contention like the disputed South China Sea or self-ruled Taiwan.

Trump upset China in December by taking a phone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. China considers Taiwan a wayward province and inherent Chinese territory, with no right to formal diplomatic relations with any other country.

Yang met Flynn in early December in New York, the first time China had publicly mentioned any face-to-face talks between Chinese officials and people from Trump's camp.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Trump have yet to speak since Trump took office, though they did talk soon after Trump won the election.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, asked earlier on Friday whether a call was in the offing, would only say the two countries were continuing to remain in "close contact".

The urbane Yang is a high-flying former Chinese ambassador to Washington with fluent English and a deep understanding of US politics.

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