US hasn’t changed course since Xi-Biden summit, Chinese foreign minister tells Antony Blinken

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Washington has not fundamentally changed its China policies and US-China relations face “new shocks” two months after the virtual summit between the two countries’ presidents, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday.

In a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Wang said November’s virtual meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US counterpart Joe Biden had laid out a direction for relations and it was important to implement it.

The conversation took place with tensions around almost every aspect of their bilateral ties, and with Beijing and Moscow moving closer. For the first time, Wang told Blinken that Russia’s “reasonable security concerns” over Ukraine should be taken seriously.

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“What the world sees is that the tone of US policy towards China has not changed substantially, and President Biden’s remarks have not been put into practice,” Wang told Blinken, according to a Chinese foreign ministry statement.

“The US continues to make wrong words and deeds about China, causing new shocks to the relationship between the two countries.”

According to Beijing, Biden said in that meeting that the US did not seek a new cold war with China, was not seeking to strengthen its alliances to counter China, and would not support Taiwanese independence. A US statement after the meeting said that Biden underscored the importance of ensuring competition between the nations did not veer into conflict, but did not mention a cold war or US alliances.

“Pressure will only make the Chinese people more united, and confrontation will not prevent China from becoming stronger,” Wang was quoted as telling Blinken.

“The top priority right now is that the US should stop interfering with the Beijing Winter Olympics, stop playing with fire on the Taiwan issue, and stop creating all kinds of anti-China small circles.”

A statement by the State Department said that Blinken and Wang had exchanged views on how to advance working together, including on managing strategic risk, health security and climate.

Blinken also emphasised the global security and economic risks posed by further Russian aggression against Ukraine and proposed that de-escalation and diplomacy were the responsible way forward, it said.

On Wednesday, Blinken said the US had given Moscow a written response on Ukraine, to address concerns that Moscow had and outline areas in which Washington saw potential for progress with Russia, including arms control. Blinken said he expected there to be discussion with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the coming days.

But Wang said that all parties should remain calm and refrain from escalating tensions.

“The security of one country cannot be at the expense of the security of other countries, and regional security cannot be guaranteed by strengthening or expanding military blocs,” Wang said.

“Russia’s reasonable security concerns should be taken seriously and resolved.”

Washington has staged a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics, citing China’s alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang, and is developing closer ties with Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a breakaway province.

The US House of Representatives on Tuesday finalised sweeping legislation aimed at strengthening the US’ hand in competition with China.

The 2,912-page bill – the America Competes Act of 2022 – includes billions of dollars for the US semiconductor industry; new provisions to strengthen US relations with Taiwan and the Quad alliance with Japan, India and Australia; and US$100 million to counter Chinese government censorship and disinformation.

The two sides are maintaining communication. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Thursday that infectious disease officials from the two nations had a video call last week, and China’s chief climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua is to attend an energy and climate change forum that the US will also attend.

Liu Weidong, a US affairs expert from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the Biden administration’s actions towards China had been more hostile than its official narrative, and he did not expect to see major changes in the relationship in the short term.

Beijing denies Xi asked Putin not to invade Ukraine during Olympics

“Overall, China has noticed that the new approach of the Biden administration is that they often say things that are not too negative, but this may not be reflected in their actions. That is interesting, because it’s how China has sometimes been interpreted: it would say some grand things but differ slightly in practice. Now the US is adopting this approach.

“I still do not think the administration has established a very mature plan in terms of policies towards China. During the leaders’ call in November, it was pretty clear that they just wanted to stabilise relations, not improve them. Since China has always been approaching the relationship in a passive responsive mode rather than proactively, it seems that the relationship will remain largely unchanged.”

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