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Premier calls on US to meet China halfway

By XU WEI | China Daily | Updated: 2023-07-08 07:25

Premier Li Qiang meets with US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, July 7, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

Premier Li Qiang urged the United States to maintain a rational and pragmatic attitude and meet China halfway to bring bilateral ties back to a normal track as early as possible, during a meeting with visiting US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday.

Mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation are the basic principles for countries to get along. Strengthening cooperation is the realistic need and right choice for Beijing and Washington, Li told Yellen, who is on a four-day visit to China starting from Thursday.

Li recalled their brief encounter at the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact in Paris last month, saying that he was impressed by Yellen's "candor and pragmatism".

He also noted that she was greeted by a rainbow upon her arrival in Beijing. "We can go through winds and rain, but after that, a rainbow is always on the horizon," he said.

The Chinese premier called upon both countries to strengthen dialogue and build consensus on key economic issues and inject stability and positive energy into bilateral economic ties.

According to a US Treasury Department news release, Yellen told the Chinese premier that "there are important global challenges where the US and China have a duty both to our own countries and to the world to cooperate and show leadership". She said Washington seeks economic ties that are not "winner-take-all" and can benefit both countries.

The two sides should not allow any disagreement to lead to misunderstandings that unnecessarily worsen the economic and financial relationship, she said.

Speaking at a roundtable discussion with US businesses operating in China on Friday, Yellen said it is "in the best interests of both countries to make sure we have direct and clear lines of communication at senior levels".

She said the US seeks to diversify, not to decouple, adding that decoupling of the world's two largest economies would be destabilizing for the global economy.

The visit by Yellen came as Beijing and Washington started restoring high-level exchanges in June. She is the second Cabinet-level member of the Biden administration to visit Beijing in a month, following the visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

US climate envoy John Kerry is also set to travel to China this month for talks on global warming, Bloomberg reported.

Su Xiaohui, deputy director of the Department of American Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said the fact that Yellen is undertaking a longer trip to Beijing than Blinken speaks volumes for the need for Beijing and Washington to deepen communications. "The US has now realized that containing China could also entail risks for Washington," she said.

The recent visits by US business leaders, including Tesla chief Elon Musk have also conveyed a message to Washington of their wishes for stable bilateral relations, she added.

Beijing has always emphasized the win-win nature of bilateral economic and trade relations, and maintained that trade wars between the world's two largest economies benefit no one, Su said.

Pang Ming, chief economist with global consultant JLL China, said the recommencement of senior-level talks in multiple areas could open the way for greater cooperation on bilateral and global issues.

"I expect more working-level communications ahead, on topics where there is more consensus than disagreement, such as climate change and the tariff reduction list, among others," he said. "I also expect progress toward de-escalation to emerge."

Zhang Yue contributed to this story.

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