China ‘will talk’, but only if the US changes its policy

Omar Adan
Omar Adan

Global Courant 2023-05-09 03:11:36

Beijing has laid out its terms for what it demands Washington must do if the Americans want to resume dialogue. Those requirements include:

Stop pressing issues with Taiwan. Do not overreact in cases such as the recent balloon incidents. Stop imposing new sanctions on China’s technology sector.

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang met with US Ambassador Nicholas Burns in Beijing on Monday morning before leaving in the afternoon for a five-day visit to Germany, France and Norway.

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Qin told Burns that China and the US should avoid a “downward spiral” in their relationship, but that the US should first correct its perception of China and return to rationality. He said the US cannot look for talks while suppressing China at the same time. He said the US should not deviate from the one China principle on the Taiwan issue.

The meeting came after Burns said in a May 2 webcast that the US would continue to provide defensive weapons to Taiwan and help the island’s authorities build deterrence.

It was the first meeting with Burns since Qin took charge of the Foreign Ministry on December 30 last year. Their previous last meeting had been held in Beijing last October after the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. Qin was then the Chinese ambassador to the United States.

“Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden,” Qin said at Monday’s session, “achieved significant consensus at the meeting in Bali last November.” “Since then, however, a series of wrong words and actions by the US has undermined the hard-won positive momentum of Sino-US relations,” he lamented.

“There is an urgency to stabilize China-US relations, avoid a downward spiral and avoid accidents between China and the US,” he said. “This should be the most fundamental consensus between the two powers and a bottom line that is guaranteed by both sides.”

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Qin said the Chinese side will maintain Sino-US relations by adhering to the principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation as proposed by Xi. He said Beijing hopes the US will think deeply, walk in the same direction with China and push Sino-US relations out of the predicament and back on track.

He added that the US should handle unexpected incidents in the relationship between the two countries in a calm, professional and pragmatic manner.

In late January, a Chinese balloon was spotted in North American airspace. The US, calling it a spy balloon, shot it down and collected the residue. China insisted it was a “meteorological balloon”. The uproar led to the cancellation of a planned trip to China by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in early February. Last month, Blinken said he was ready to visit Beijing, but was turned down.

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US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo have also said they want to visit China this year, but have not yet seen any progress.

Conflicts between the US and China

On May 2, Burns commented on US-China relations at a virtual event hosted by the Stimson Center, a Washington-based think tank. He said the two powers had different views on the Taiwan issue, on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and on strategic competition in the high-tech sector.

“Under the Taiwan Relations Act, which dates back to January 1, 1979 and is applied retroactively, the U.S. has an obligation and interest to ensure that we can provide Taiwan with defensive weapons so that the Taiwanese authorities can have a proper defense and we can help them build deterrence,” Burns said.

“If Taiwan has enough deterrence and if other countries around the world support a peaceful resolution, one would hope that this would help the Chinese understand the consequences of using force in the Taiwan Strait,” he said.

He reiterated the US government’s position to support the right of successive US House Speakers Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy to meet with Taiwanese leaders.

Beijing said US arms sales have crossed the red line as they help promote Taiwan’s independence. State media said Biden promised at the Bali rally that the US would not try to support Taiwan’s independence, but claimed his words did not match his actions.

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang (left) and US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns Photo: Twitter, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a state-owned media outlet in China, published an article Sunday evening titled “The U.S. has staged ‘Say one thing and do another’ to the extreme.”

The article’s Beijing-based writer adds, “The US used the so-called intensification of the situation in the Taiwan Strait as an excuse to pressure China on several international occasions.”

He criticizes the US for approving a $400 million arms sales deal to Taiwan last December and passing the National Defense Authorization Act, which will provide the island with $10 billion in security aid over the next five years. He also berates the US for finalizing the sale of 400 anti-ship missiles to Taiwan and sending a delegation of 25 arms dealers to visit the island last week.

Investment Restrictions

According to Burns, speaking on the May 2 webcast, Beijing had blocked eight communication channels with the US after Pelosi visited Taiwan on August 2 last year. He said that he was summoned to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on August 3 in the evening and was informed of China’s position, which was later published in a rack on August 4.

Then-Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who was traveling in Cambodia, described the US as the biggest disruptor of peace in the Taiwan Strait in that August 4 statement. He said Pelosi’s visit to China had left China with no choice but to retaliate. The release of the statement was followed by three days of People’s Liberation Army exercises near Taiwan.

The meeting in Bali had temporarily eased tensions between the two countries, but then came the balloon incident in late January and the manifestation of stronger economic ties between China and Russia in March, Burns said.

“Over the past few weeks, over the past month or so, there has been consistent communication between myself and senior State Department officials, my colleagues at the US mission and their State Department counterparts here,” he said. “That has been a good sign that here in Beijing we have been able to pass messages, exchange points of view and talk about difficult issues, sometimes at length.”

On April 18, Politico reported that Biden was about to sign an executive order that would ban U.S. companies and private equity and venture capital funds from investing in Chinese microchips, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, and clean energy projects and companies. Biden will try to announce these investment restrictions ahead of the G7 summit and ask US allies for support.

The opinion of the Chinese expert

A columnist from the state-owned Chengdu Radio and Television writes in an article on Monday that Qin gave the US a free pass by meeting Burns and telling him all of Beijing’s demands.

“Since the outbreak of the trade war in 2018, there have actually been no dialogues and negotiations between China and the US,” he says.

“First, the attitude of the US is not sincere, because they have imposed various restrictions on China. Second, the US continues to create new conflicts to worsen China-US relations. Third, Biden and Blinken have often said that the US will only talk if China submits. It’s an unreasonable demand.”

He adds: “Finally, China stressed that the dialogue should be conducted on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect.”

The writer says that China will not talk to the US for the time being due to the need to safeguard its national interests and develop a stable bilateral relationship. He says that if the US can meet China’s demands, both sides can resume dialogue immediately.

Read: US investment restrictions on tech companies enrage China

Follow Jeff Pao on Twitter at @jeffpao3


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China ‘will talk’, but only if the US changes its policy

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