‘US-China ties can slip into a downward spiral’

Wang Yi says recent improvements in ties face ‘disruptions’ amid threats of sanctions over support for Russia’s defence industry…reports Asian Lite News

China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, has warned the US that the recent improvements in the two countries’ relations were being jeopardised by “disruptions” which could take them back to a “downward spiral” leading to rivalry, confrontation and even conflict.

Wang was speaking at the start of a meeting in Beijing with the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, at a time of renewed tension in the relations between the superpowers.

Blinken’s three-day visit to China comes five months after a largely successful summit between US and China leaders Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, which was followed by a decrease in tensions over Taiwan, the re-establishment of contacts between the two countries’ militaries and bilateral cooperation on counter-narcotics efforts.

Antony Blinken waves as he boards his plane at Andrews airbase in Maryland on his way to Beijing for his three-day visit to China

But the US is now threatening sanctions against Chinese companies for supplying the Russian defense industry, and is considering tariffs in the face of what Washington says is Chinese manufacturing over-capacity. The Biden administration has also tightened export controls on advanced computer chips.

While Blinken was on the way to China, Congress passed legislation that would ban the social media platform TikTok within a year in the US – if its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, does not sell its stake – as well as provide billions of dollars in aid for the Indo-Pacific that would largely benefit Taiwan.

At the start of what was scheduled to be a six-hour series of meetings between US and Chinese delegations at the Diaoyutai state guest house in Beijing, Wang suggested the bilateral relationship was at a turning point. Since the Biden-Xi summit in San Francisco in November, he said it was “beginning to stabilise” with increased dialogue and cooperation.

“This is welcomed by our two peoples and the international community,” Wang said through an official interpreter. “But at the same time, the negative factors in the relationship are still increasing and building and the relationship is facing all kinds of disruptions.”

“China’s legitimate development rights have been unreasonably suppressed and our core interests are facing challenges,” he said. “Should China and the United States keep to the right direction of moving forward with stability or return to a downward spiral?”

“This is a major question before our two countries, which tests our sincerity and ability,” Wang added, warning the US “not to step on China’s red lines on China’s sovereignty, security and development interests.”

“Should our two sides lead international cooperation on global issues and achieve win-win for all, or engage in rivalry and confrontation or even slide into conflict, which would be a lose-lose for all?” Wang asked. “The international community is waiting for our answer.”

In response, Blinken said he welcomed the opportunity to have face-to-face talks “to avoid misunderstandings, to avoid miscalculations”.

“That it really is a shared responsibility that we have, not only for our own people, but for people around the world, given the impact that the relationship between our countries has around the world,” Blinken said.

“It’s important to demonstrate that we’re managing responsibly the most consequential relationship for both of us in the world.”

Blinken is also expected to meet President Xi on Friday, though Beijing does not usually confirm such meetings until the last minute.

US officials say there has been relative calm in the Taiwan Strait since the Biden-Xi summit, after a period of high tension in which Chinese warships and planes would regularly approach Taiwan. At the same time however, there has been increasing friction in the South China Sea between China – which claims sovereignty over most of the sea – and neighbouring countries, particularly the Philippines, a US ally.

One of the key topics in the Beijing talks will be counter-narcotics cooperation. At November’s summit, China took some steps to curb the supply of chemical precursors and equipment used by traffickers to make the synthetic opioid fentanyl, the leading cause of death for Americans, aged 18 to 49. However, there is concern in Washington that the steps taken by Beijing have been token, and have yet to have much effect.

Blinken, who is accompanied in Beijing by Todd Robinson, assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, is asking for more consistent police action against Chinese suppliers.

The secretary of state has also come to deliver a message that Chinese companies could soon face sanctions from the US and its European allies for selling weapons components and dual-use equipment to Russia’s arms industry, which is rebuilding and modernising to feed Vladimir Putin’s effort to conquer Ukraine. China has shrugged off appeals to curb those exports, describing them as foreign interference in the trade relations between China and a close strategic partner.

ALSO READ-Putin says plans to visit China next month

[soliloquy id="31272"]
[soliloquy id="31269"]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *