China’s Wang Urges Better U.S. Ties as Biden’s Term Nears

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called for Beijing and Washington to return to dialogue, while blasting President Donald Trump’s “America first” policies.

“We hope that we will expand cooperation and manage differences through dialogue,” Wang said Friday in a video address to the Asia Society in New York. “It is important that United States policies toward China return to objectivity and sustainability as soon as possible.”

His remarks were the most detailed commentary on U.S.-China relations from a Chinese government official since Joe Biden’s victory in the Nov. 3 presidential election. They are also the latest in a string of comments from top Chinese diplomats that hint at a desire to reset relations between the world’s two largest economies as Biden prepares to take office in January.

Wang set out a framework for improving ties, calling on U.S. politicians to stop criticizing China’s ruling Communist Party and respect the country’s interests in Xinjiang and Tibet, where Beijing’s policies have drawn widespread international criticism. He also pointed to climate change, economic recovery and the coronavirus pandemic response as potential areas for cooperation.

Wang’s comments come amid a flood of anti-China measures from the Trump administration, including restricting visas for members of the Chinese Communist Party and sanctioning officials over Beijing’s sweeping crackdown in Hong Kong.

Addressing U.S. business leaders last week, Wang called for the two sides to “go back to the right track.” In November, former vice foreign minister Fu Ying penned an op-ed calling for “cooperative competition” between the powers.

Wang offered a dark assessment of the state of the U.S.-China relationship at the end of the Trump administration, which he said had “spiraled down to the lowest level since the establishment of diplomatic ties” more than four decades earlier.

“The go-it-alone approach and walking away from international commitments have fractured and crippled the international system,” he said.

He argued that many U.S. politicians have “strategic miscalculations about China” and that there are “vast common interests” between the two countries. “China is not a threat to the United States and will not be a threat to the United States,” he said.

Wang also warned against measures that might further damage ties going forward, describing the U.S. expansion of sanctions toward Chinese companies as “unacceptable.” He said U.S. efforts to “remodel or subvert China” would be “mission impossible” and repeated China’s position that its policies in Tibet and Xinjiang are “internal affairs.”

Wang said that China was implementing the “phase one” trade deal in good faith, and urged the U.S. to stop “over-stretching the notion of national security,” and “the arbitrary suppression of Chinese companies.”

Kevin Rudd, Australia’s former prime minister and current president of the Asia Society Policy Institute, introduced Wang and said that U.S.-China ties were at their lowest point in half a century. He added that confrontation between the two countries had ensnared U.S. allies such as Japan, South Korea and Australia, “which now finds itself very much in the firing line of tensions in the bilateral relationship.”

Relations between Beijing and Canberra have been strained since 2018, when Australia barred Huawei Technologies Co. from building its 5G network there. They deteriorated further this year after Australia called for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus. China then imposed a raft of trade measures blocking billions of dollars worth of Australian commodities.

Rudd picked up on Wang’s comments on the importance of face-to-face dialogue to put in a pitch for Australia, saying he hoped the two governments would have such contact soon.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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