No thaw in China-America relations - GulfToday

No thaw in China-America relations


The US and the Chinese officials believe that open communication is the key to bilateral relationship.

In a characteristic Chinese understatement, Chinese President Xi JInping told visiting United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in their meeting at the Great Hall of the People, “The two sides made progress and reached agreement on some specific issues. This is very good.” Blinken’s visit to China and his marathon meetings with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, one last lasting more than seven-and-half-hours on Sunday and the over three hours on Monday with Wang Yi, director of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee Commission Office on Foreign Affairs, were not meant to reach an agreement or even break the ice. It was meant to reopen talks between the United States and China at high level talks between the two countries. This is the first time in five years that an American Secretary of State has travelled to Beijing.

Both sides were clear that there would be no breakthroughs, but the realisation was there that despite their irreconcilable differences the two sides should continue to talk. Blinken and Qin have indeed come to the same conclusion that open communication is the key to the bilateral relationship. The Chinese also wanted more visits from American businessmen and American tourists, American students and scientists. The Chinese want a brisk exchange programme at the different levels. The Chinese know that such an interaction would be of great value to the Chinese economy, to the up-gradation of Chinese technology. There is little doubt in the Chinese mind that China is lagging behind America in terms of technology, and interaction with American businessmen, scientists and technologists would be of great advantage to the Chinese. The Americans on their part, though greatly interested in Chinese markets for American businesses, are not willing to share technology, scientific discoveries with the Chinese. That is in many ways the popular red line dividing the first and second largest economies in the world.

But there are strategic issues at stake, and especially Taiwan for China. Beijing has declared in the most unambiguous language that Taiwan is of great concern and it is not negotiable. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller stated the American view of the talks with China: “The secretary emphasised the importance of diplomacy and maintaining open channels of communication across the full range of issues to reduce the risk of misperception and miscalculation.”  While China expressed its desire for “stable, predictable and constructive” relations with the United States, Beijing’s position on Taiwan has been made very clear. For China Taiwan is an issue of core interest, and it considered Taiwan to be an issue of “prominent risk” in the relationship with the United States. Qin told Blinken, according to Chinese state media, “that the Taiwan issue is the core of China’s core interests, the most important issue in Sino-US relations, and the most prominent risk.” Wang told Blinken on Monday, ”We must take a responsible attitude toward the people, history and the world, and reverse the downward spiral of US-China relations.” Wang asked the US to end theories of conspiracy about China working against the US, and also place hurdles in the technological development of China.

The only thing that seems to have happened in Blinken’s detailed conversations with Qin and Wang, and his brief interaction with Xi, is that the two sides exchanged views, and that is a big first step in the frayed relations between the two top economies of the world. This is also an outcome of the three-hour meeting between Xi and US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the G20 summit at Bali last November where it was decided to resume exchange of high level visits between the two countries.

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