Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
May 23, 2023
We wish Ambassador Xie Feng the best of luck in DC. The US-China relationship is dangerously bad, even though some hopeful signs of thaw are emerging. But Ambassador Xie does face “serious difficulties and challenges” to put the US-Chin relation “back to track.”
From China’s point of view, the US lacks the basic understanding of China and China has lost confidence in the US. It will take sincere efforts with serious commitments from top leaders for a reset of the US-China relation. The US and China will keep competing in a complex and dynamic world. Hopefully, the new US-China relationship will take shape progressively.
Ambassador Xie has one advantage, because his career has been focused on dealing with the US, he is well respected by the US foreign affairs professionals. He could jump start bilateral dialogues in DC even without the need for a translator. As a contrast, US Ambassador Nicolas Burns in Beijing has been well entrenched in DC and State Department, but he has had little exposure with Chinese and vice versa. He had a difficult time in Beijing to begin with.
Still, Ambassadors are messengers, bilateral relations are based on actions and not by words. Only a solid policy consistently implemented will ensure stable peaceful bilateral relations. We wish both Ambassadors the best of luck.
New Chinese ambassador warns of ‘serious difficulties’ in US-China relations upon arrival in US
Kylie Atwood Tue, May 23, 2023 at 12:44 PM PDT·4 min read
China’s new ambassador arrived in the United States on Tuesday as both the US and Chinese governments have indicated that they want to put relations between their two nations back on track.
Xie Feng said he aims to enhance US-China relations at a time of “serious difficulties and challenges.”
“We hope that the United States will work together with China to increase dialogue, to manage differences and also to expand our cooperation so that our relationship will be back to the right track,” Xie said in remarks in English after landing in New York City.
Xie said Tuesday he’s looking forward to “properly handling sensitive and important issues, like the Taiwan question,” as well as engaging with Americans “from all walks of life.” He referenced the last time he was working in the US as a diplomat over a decade ago and said that the world and the US have changed a lot.
US officials are expecting Xie to be a capable and productive interlocutor based on past engagements they have had with the longtime Chinese diplomat.
“He’s a professional, he’s very capable. We’ve known him for many, many years. I think he’s been working at the MFA for more than 30 years,” said a State Department official. “And we really know him from his time in Washington.
China’s new U.S. envoy arrives to a nearly impossible task: thawing relations
Mon, May 22, 2023 at 5:14 PM PDT
Xie Feng previously served as vice foreign minister and is the successor to Qin Gang, who left Washington in January to become China’s foreign minister.
Xie arrives in Washington at a time when the U.S.-China relationship has hit a 50-year low over tensions linked to trade, Taiwan and the Chinese spy balloon incident in February. Xi Jinping accused the U.S. and other Western countries of “all-round containment, encirclement and suppression against us, bringing unprecedentedly severe challenges to our country’s development” in a speech in March.
Xie’s dispatch from Beijing comes on the heels of Biden’s prediction during a news conference Sunday at the end of the G-7 meeting in Hiroshima, Japan, that bilateral relations will “begin to thaw very shortly.”
The timing of Xie taking up his post “points to a thaw … but will neither reverse nor stop the path of de-risking that both sides are embarked on,” said Ivan Kanapathy, former director for China, Taiwan and Mongolia at the National Security Council.
The Chinese leadership’s choice of Xie may signal a preference for a less-caustic interlocutor in order to ease bilateral antipathy. But Xie has his own record of wolf warrior-style diplomacy. In his previous role as the foreign ministry’s commissioner in Hong Kong, Xie decried foreign criticism of the territory’s often brutal police response to pro-democracy protesters in 2019 and blamed that unrest on shadowy “foreign forces.” Xie led a frosty meeting with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in July 2021 during which he scolded her for what he said was the administration’s “highly misguided mindset and dangerous policy” toward China.
Xie sent Sherman home with a “List of U.S. Wrongdoings that Must Stop” and a “List of Key Individual Cases that China Has Concerns With” to ensure she got the message.
Xie might rethink the wisdom of that approach now that he’s Xi’s point man in the U.S.
Washington’s sincerity ‘in question’ for improving China ties amid report about new Chinese envoy
Resumption of high-level engagement indicates China’s responsible attitude in contrast to US’ misjudgment: experts
By Chen Qingqing Published: May 23, 2023 10:04 PM
Some US media and analysts who closely follow US-China relations consider that Xie’s arrival is a positive sign amid a tense bilateral relationship, as it was also the longest vacancy of Chinese ambassador to the US in four decades. But Chinese experts are more guarded. Any improvement in relations depends on whether Washington is sincere in wanting to correct its wrong deeds and stop provoking Beijing on its core interests, some experts said.
“If the information about Xie is true, it would show that China has always dealt with China-US relations in a responsible way, and hopes to manage differences and stabilize bilateral ties,” Diao Daming, an associate professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Known as a specialist on China-US relations, Xie has vast experience in handling US-related affairs. From 1993 to 2014, Xie has been engaged in diplomatic work concerning the US, switching positions between the Department of North America and Oceanian Affairs of the ministry and the Chinese Embassy in the US.
In recent weeks, Xie has met a number of US business representatives including Steven Croley, chief policy officer of Ford Motor Company, Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of Blackstone, and Stephen Orlins, president of the National Committee on US-China Relations (NCUSCR), exchanging views on China-US relations and other issues of mutual interest and concern, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
There has been a resumption of high-level engagement between China and the US lately. The meeting between China’s top diplomat Wang Yi and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in Vienna in early May is believed to have opened a window for the two countries to remove obstacles and ease tensions amid a diplomatic stalemate after the balloon incident. Chinese commerce minister Wang Wentao is also scheduled to travel to the US and meet his US counterpart this week.
Although more frequent high-level re-engagement between the two countries will help prevent bilateral relations from further spiraling downward, some Chinese experts said they are not optimistic on any significant progress in the China-US relations given that the Biden administration’s basic strategic judgment about China remains unchanged.
If Washington really wants to see a “thaw” in US-China relations, it should stop provoking China on the Taiwan question, remove unilateral tariffs on Chinese products, lift sanctions on Chinese institutions, and reduce obstacles for people-to-people exchanges, Wu Xinbo, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
If the US has enough sincerity to improve China relations, it should first establish a correct understanding about China, stop forming small cliques and stop hyping “China threat,” Diao noted. “Washington should not say one thing and do another, and we need carefully observe its deeds while listening to its words,” the expert said.