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China's to-do lists for US can help repair ties

By ZHANG YUNBI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-07-11 06:45

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a five-hour-long meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Bali on Saturday after the G20 Foreign Ministers' conference. XU QIN/XINHUA

To help repair its frayed ties with the United States, China displayed pragmatism, vision and the utmost sincerity as it put forward a number of proposals-including four to-do lists intended for the US-at a key meeting on Saturday, observers said.

Since both sides are working for more of what they called "high-level exchanges", Washington should stop putting off making tangible moves, fix the damage it has brought to the relations and respond in good faith to Beijing's new proposals, they said.

After attending the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Bali, Indonesia, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met on Saturday for a five-hour closed-door meeting.

Tension in China-US relations has escalated in recent months as Washington angered Beijing in a range of critical matters such as the Taiwan Straits, its hostile China policy and continued attacks on China's domestic affairs.

In their third face-to-face meeting since last year, Wang and Blinken engaged in "comprehensive, in-depth, candid and lengthy communication" on China-US ties as well as international and regional issues of common concern, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a release on Saturday.

Beijing also offered four lists to the US, asking Washington to correct its erroneous China policy and its words and deeds; make clear specific issues of its concerns with China; specify China-related legislation it passes; and list eight areas for two-way cooperation.

China expressed the hope that the US would take these four lists seriously.

"The list of eight areas for cooperation and the first three lists help outline the ideal approach to the relations-correcting mistakes while advancing collaboration," said Su Xiaohui, deputy director of the China Institute of International Studies' Department of American Studies.

Since the US Congress has passed a large number of bills sanctioning China over topics such as Xinjiang, Su noted, the third list made clear that such legislation of the US Congress is sabotaging bilateral relations.

"The US government's explanation that it cannot thwart Congress' decisions shouldn't be an excuse for (the US) pressuring China and damaging relations," she said.

Many experts said the four lists remind them of the two to-do lists Beijing proposed last year during US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman's China visit about the "US wrongdoings that must stop" and "key individual cases that China has concerns with".

"The four lists include China's strong desire for the US to further correct mistakes made by the previous administration and to fulfill commitments made by the current administration," said Diao Daming, an associate professor of US studies at Renmin University of China in Beijing.

"The fourth list for cooperation once again shows China's pragmatism and sincere wish to advance collaboration, which Washington should respond to seriously with tangible moves," he added.

When elaborating on Washington's latest China strategy in May, Blinken vowed to "shape the strategic environment around Beijing".

In contrast, the Chinese side put forward its ideas for benign China-US interaction in the Asia-Pacific region at the talks on Saturday.

"Beijing's fresh vision for benign interactions in the Asia-Pacific manifests its strong sense of duty and its readiness to actively shape and navigate the region's order, drawing a sharp contrast with the confrontational 'Indo-Pacific Strategy' and major countries competition advocated by Washington," Diao said.

"China's strategic thinking has transcended the US' obsession with competition and truly lives up to the very interests of the region and the whole world," he added.

Before and during the meeting on Saturday, US officials emphasized the need to install "guardrails" for China relations, and Chinese officials have publicly criticized the US for failing to fulfill its commitments of not supporting Taiwan independence and not seeking to contain China.

In response, State Councilor Wang made clear that the most reliable means of protecting the relations should be the three landmark China-US joint communiques that enshrine the one-China principle.

Speaking on the Taiwan question, Wang asked the US "not to make an overwhelming mistake that will bury the peace in the Taiwan Straits".

"By highlighting the three communiques, Beijing sends a clear signal that the US should not urge China to stay calm while the US makes incremental provocations and troubles in the Taiwan Straits," said Su, the China Institute of International Studies scholar.

During the talks, Blinken said that the US does not seek to wage a new Cold War against China, does not seek to change Chinese systems, does not challenge the ruling position of the Communist Party of China, does not seek to contain China, does not support "Taiwan independence", and does not seek to change the status quo in the Taiwan Straits.

The US is committed to managing and controlling risk factors in bilateral ties and is open to cooperation with China, he said.

Wang warned that the relationship has yet to emerge from the difficult situation created by the previous US administration and of its future risks of going further down a wrong path.

The root cause is the US' problematic perception of China that led its China policy off-track, and its China policy will walk into deadlock if its China-phobia is not cured, he said.

Wang proposed that the two sides should establish channels to implement the consensus reached by the two countries' heads of state and should explore and establish guidelines for action by both sides.

At the meeting, Wang and Blinken agreed to create better conditions for diplomatic and consular personnel of both sides to perform their duties, and they agreed to resume exchanges and consultations on people-to-people issues.

They also agreed to strengthen cooperation on climate change and public health, and they talked about the Ukraine issue and the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

"The meeting on Saturday paves the way for the G20 Summit later this year, where leaders are expected to address acute global problems, such as inflation and the food crisis," said Wang Yiwei, a professor at the School of International Studies and director of the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University of China.

"As the China-US relationship is suffering a 'high fever', even many other countries are expecting the tension's de-escalation, because without the two countries, some major issues with global impact cannot be resolved," professor Wang said.

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