Mon, September 27, 2021

international

Meeting in Washington shores up ties


Envoy vows to work for constructive relationship between China and US

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In the latest meeting with key United States diplomats, Beijing's new top envoy in Washington Qin Gang said the ties are "at a new crossroads", and he used the words "rational, stable, manageable and constructive" to outline the expected China-US ties he is working toward.

His meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on Thursday was a testament to Beijing's hope that the two sides can jointly steer the relationship away from further worsening, experts said.

It is also "a critical chance for communication on China-US ties" that projects a strong readiness from both sides to deepen their understanding of one another, experts added.

Beijing and Washington have seen tensions rise between them over the past few months on a series of topics such as Taiwan, COVID-19 origin tracing and human rights.

At the meeting, both sides traded goodwill sentiments, as Sherman told Qin that the State Department will provide convenience and support for the performance of his duties in the US, and Qin thanked the US side for providing support and assistance.

Qin said he will follow the spirit of the telephone conversation between President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden on the eve of Chinese New Year, and enhance communication and dialogue with the US side.

The two sides "exchanged views on issues of mutual interest and agreed to maintain close dialogue and communication", according to the Chinese embassy.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Qin said, "Both sides agreed that China-US relations are very important and it is necessary for the two sides to manage differences and disagreements, resolve issues through dialogue and communication and work together to improve bilateral relations."

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Sherman "expressed the United States' commitment to continuing discussions".

Su Xiaohui, deputy director of the Department of American Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said Qin's comments on controlling divergence are "good news for the ties".

The "rational, stable, manageable and constructive" ties Qin has vowed to work for sent a signal that "China expects the relationship to stabilize before moving on to the next phase of talks on cooperation at a higher level", Su said.

"Beijing has no illusion on the ties, as Washington has yet to take major steps in terms of damage control on the negative impact the US has had on the ties since (the beginning of) Donald Trump administration," Su added.

Prior to Qin's arrival, Sherman visited Tianjin on July 25-26 for talks with Vice-Foreign Minister Xie Feng. She also met State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

The Thursday meeting is one more step forward to bolster mutual understanding, and "the worst thing for both sides is misjudgment rather than differences", Su said.

During Sherman's China trip, Beijing singled out three areas-China's political system, development and sovereignty-as no-go-zones that the US must not enter.

At Thursday's meeting, Qin clearly stated China's position on the Taiwan question. He told reporters that the Taiwan question is "the most important and sensitive issue" in China-US ties.

Su, the CIIS scholar, said "the US is expected to take heed of the warning issued by China".

"If the US further miscalculates and challenges the one-China bottom line of the Taiwan question in an incremental approach like slicing a sausage, it will certainly lead to an uncontrollable end result," Su said.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Friday that China strongly opposes the US' finger-pointing and gross interference in China's legitimate actions, after the State Department asserted earlier this week that "each country should be able to determine the contours of its own 'one-China' policy without outside coercion".

Qin arrived in Washington and started self-quarantine exactly two weeks ahead of his first meeting as ambassador with Sherman on Thursday.

Diao Daming, an associate professor of US studies at the School of International Studies of Renmin University of China, said the arrangement of Qin's schedule reflects his great sense of duty and "Washington's willingness to embark on communication with Beijing as soon as possible to bolster dialogue".

Diao endorsed Qin's public diplomacy in the first two weeks, as the envoy sent a series of tweets covering a wide range of areas, such as his congratulations to TeamUSA for winning the most medals at the recent Tokyo Olympics.

"This shows that Qin is ready to make the gate for China-US ties open even wider by tapping into more collaboration and dialogue to keep the ties' growth afloat," Diao added.

Published : August 14, 2021

By : ZHAO HUANXIN and ZHANG YUNBI/China Daily/ANN