In face-to-face talks with the US, China on Monday for the first time delivered to Washington a list of demands and measures to be taken by the Biden administration to end the ‘stalemate’ in bilateral ties. Talks between Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng and US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to improve relations started on an unpleasant note in Tianjin, with Xie accusing Washington of being the ‘owner of coercive diplomacy’.
Sherman, the US’s No. 2 diplomat, is the highest-ranking official to visit China since Joe Biden’s inauguration. At a resort hotel in Tianjin, she will meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US ambassador Xie, who is responsible for US-China relations. The Chinese Vice Premier also laid out a ‘List of US Wrongdoings that Must Stop’ and a ‘List of Key Individual Cases that China Has Concerns’ in addition to his well-publicized scathing attack on the US. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the list included lifting US sanctions against Chinese officials and their families and rescinding Washington’s request to extradite Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Huawei and daughter of its founder Ren Zhengfei.
In 2018, Meng was arrested in Vancouver on a bank fraud warrant issued by the previous Trump administration. According to Wu, in addition to the visa restrictions that China lists as wrongdoings, the US should revoke sanctions on Chinese leaders, officials, and government agencies, and cease harassing Chinese students and Chinese companies, as well as stop oppressing Confucius institutes.
On the second list, China expressed concern over the rejection of visas for Chinese students, unfair treatment of Chinese citizens and harassment of the Chinese consulates and embassy in the United States, as well as racial attacks against Chinese and Asians. Upon his arrival in China, Sherman was greeted by thousands of people. Due to COVID-19 protocols, Beijing could not host foreign dignitaries at the meeting. As soon as she arrived, she tweeted, ‘deepest condolences (from the United States) to those who lost loved ones’ in severe storms and flooding last week in China’s Henan province. 69 people died.
Monday’s US-China talks followed the highly contentious first meeting in Anchorage, Alaska where Wang and China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi exchanged barbs with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. China has also been under immense pressure from the US and its allies over accusations of genocide in Xinjiang over mass detention camps holding thousands of Uyghur Muslims. John Kerry, the Biden administration’s special envoy on climate, met with his Chinese counterpart in April this year.
The China-US relationship became adversarial under the previous US President Donald Trump, who imposed trade sanctions as well as blaming China for the spread of Coronavirus, which first appeared in Wuhan in December 2019, and the possibility of it spreading from a bio-lab in the city. Biden sought to cement Trump’s stern China policy by uniting Washington’s allies, including the EU, Canada, Australia, and Japan, which further irritated Beijing. Following his appointment, he spoke with Xi on the phone for over an hour, and reports suggest the two countries may arrange a bilateral summit soon.
Earlier, Biden described Xi as ‘very bright’ and ‘very strong’ but without ‘a democratic bone in his body’, highlighting the autocratic nature of the 68-year-old Chinese leader. Under pressure especially over the COVID-19, China is pushing against an independent investigation by the World Health Organization (WHO) into the origins of the Coronavirus. China has mounted a massive campaign at home and abroad to avert allowing international investigators to probe the origins of COVID-19 in Wuhan. About 55 countries, including Russia, Belarus, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, have written to the WHO opposing the politicization of COVID-19 origin.
Wang Yi said on Saturday that China will provide the US a ‘tutorial’ on how to treat other countries equally. According to comments published on the foreign ministry website, he said that the United States always tries to exert pressure on other countries by virtue of its own strength. ‘I would like to make it clear to the US side that there has never been a country that has been superior to another, nor should there be, and China will not accept a country claiming to be superior, he added. The China-US relationship is in a stalemate, Xie said, primarily because some Americans see China as an imaginary enemy, and Washington must change its dangerous policy and mindset.
China is being brought down by a campaign that involves the entire government and society. In other words, the US will no longer face any inward or external challenges once China’s development is contained, according to him. When the US wants something from China, its policy appears to be to demand cooperation. ‘China wants to work with the US to find common ground while shelving differences,’ he said. A healthy and stable China-US relationship serves both sides’ interests. According to the state-run Xinhua news agency, the world expects no less from both sides.