Despite efforts from both sides to keep channels open between the U.S. and China, one more round of meetings between U.S. officials and their Chinese counterparts ended in criticism from both sides. Even before talks ended between the two, Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng told U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman that the relationship between their countries was in a “stalemate” and faced difficulties. Sherman has been in Tianjin on Sunday and Monday to meet Xie as well as Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Xie told the media that Beijing had presented the U.S. with two lists:
- Errors that need to be addressed
- Issues that were important according to Beijing.
Senior U.S. administration officials did not name the items on the lists. They said that issues were raised by both sides and that the U.S. will follow up on issues raised by Beijing. They also said that the four-hour long discussions covered various issues such as Hong Kong, Iran and more and talks were candid and constructive. When asked about a U.S.-China summit, the officials said that China had to take the next step.
The relations between China and the U.S. had been strained during the Trump administration. President Biden has increased criticism of China on certain issues including abuse of human rights in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, but China said that it has not “coerced any country,” a comment that is unlikely to be accepted at face value by the U.S.
Senior state department officials said that this meeting was a step to keep high-level communications open and was not for negotiations. Earlier Secretary of State Anthony Blinken had met his Chinese counterpart in March in Anchorage, Alaska. That meeting was also a tense one as both sides publicly traded insults.
Official readouts show that the phone calls of Chinese trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He with U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen were more amicable.
The United States is working on all fronts to consider a “competitive relationship” with China while reaching out to other allies in Asia. President Biden has persuaded G-7 countries to give strong statements against China but has not formulated an economic and financial strategy to counter China’s huge economic strength.
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