Will top diplomats' meeting inject momentum to China-US ties?

By Xin Qiang Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/18 16:13:40

Photo: IC

Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, held a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the latter's request on Tuesday and Wednesday local time in the US state of Hawaii. Yang conducted in-depth exchanges with Pompeo on China-US relations as well as global and regional issues of mutual concern.

This is the first face to face discussions between top Chinese and US diplomats following suspended talks.

Pompeo verbally attacked China during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has negatively affected China-US high-level communication and cooperation in the fight against novel coronavirus. The two countries' strategic mutual trust was also severely weakened. The meeting between Yang and Pompeo can stop this downward spiral of China-US relations to some extent. It is hoped the US will cease its ideological prejudice and the mindset of suppressing China in order to bring back the momentum of China-US cooperation.

The US has the need to hold the talks with China. This proves that the US knows not cooperating with China will harm US epidemic prevention and control efforts, other global and regional issues, and the reelection of US President Donald Trump. In general, cooperation is better than conflict.

But as the Hawaii meeting was being held, Trump also signed the Uygur bill on Wednesday, claiming to protect human rights in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The US has always been good at playing petty tricks. By playing these cards, Washington attempts to exert more pressure on Beijing in a hope to force the latter to make concession during bilateral talks. 

However, China's mindset is different from that of the US. When there is a dialogue between the two countries, China will release positive signals and show its goodwill. The US, however, has been trying to show off that it still has several cards in its hands. By signing the Uygur bill, the Trump administration wants to show its "politically correct" position on China. It does not want to appear weak on Beijing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry responded strongly to the Uygur bill in a statement released Thursday. If the US further uses the so-called Uygur bill to interfere in China's internal affairs and make specific moves to harm China-US relations, China is bound to take countermeasures instead of only condemning verbally. In recent years, the US has been taking use of issues of Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong and Taiwan to challenge China's bottom line. The US has wrongly believed that these tricks would work. It will thus go even further along the wrong path. This is a dangerous trend.

If the US keeps playing petty tricks during bilateral talks, China-US cooperation will only be limited to sitting down and moving lips. In this sense, the US will have to stop dreaming that China will make substantial moves to cooperate.

Yang attended the meeting at the US side's request. Currently, the US is more in need of talking with China, not the other way around. Beijing is not begging to talk with the Washington. China Central Television, the national broadcaster, publicly criticized Pompeo in April. It shows Beijing's strong dissatisfaction with him and with US China policy. If the US wants to keep playing tough, China will fight it to the end and will never compromise or surrender. 

Currently, the US is struggling with the COVID-19 epidemic, economic recession, and roiling protests over racism. China, however, is in a relatively advantageous position as we speed up resuming work and production. If China-US relations continue to worsen, it will only harm the US' economic recovery, market confidence, and epidemic prevention and control. At the current stage, the US side hopes to talk to the Chinese side. As long as the two sides sit down and start to talk, then the confidence of the US market as well as investors' confidence will immediately rebound. This has been proven many times.

China has pointed out clearly that Yang attended the meeting with Pompeo "at the latter's request." This shows the Chinese side's firm attitude: If the US wants to talk, then let us talk properly. If the US wants to keep walking on the wrong path of suppressing and besieging China, we will also respond firmly.

The author is deputy director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai. [email protected]


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