Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
March 5, 2022
Phone calls between US and China diplomats should be routine, if US-China relation were normal. But US-China relation has been far from normal for the past few years. The US-China trade war is still ongoing, the Phase-One Trade Agreement signed by Trump and Xi was expired on December 31, 2021, but the book is not closed yet. There is no formal negotiation or new proposal for a future US-China trade deal. High-level contacts between US and China are few and not productive most of the time. There are many reasons for such low-level interactions between the US and China. COVID-19 Pandemic is a major problem for international travel and face to face meetings. Both US and China have to manage the Pandemic crisis as a top priority.
Another reason is national political agenda. China is convening her annual national congresses right now. China will take time to assess the global challenges and formulate her domestic and foreign policy. The US, on the other hand, has not formally announced her China strategy, even though an Indo-Pacific Strategy and an Indo-Pacific Economic Platform have been published. But there is a lack of specific implementation plan. The US is entering her political hot season of 2022 Mid-term election. The risk of Democratic losing the majority control of both the House and Senate after November 8, 2022, vote is real. If so, Biden will be a lame-duck President and many of his political agenda and initiatives will be halted or modified by GOP. There is no doubt that US-China relation is very challenged, but the uncertainty of US policy is the real issue.
The following official readout from the US State Department is unusually terse. It is obvious that Blinken only intended to denounce Russia for the Ukraine war. The other message to China is a warning that “the US is watching to see which nations stand up for the basic principles of freedom, self-determination and sovereignty.” Then the statement that “He underscored that the world is acting in unison” is obviously an “official” US position but it does not represent the world. The “world” does include Russia, it also includes China, India, and many other nations.
China’s official account of the phone call is lengthy and detailed. One sense is that China talks with the US are always focused on US-China relation. China naturally insists on discussing issues of Chinese interests first. Then regional concerns such as Korea Peninsula is also discussed. China did address the Ukraine war but made only statements in principle without any specific commitment.
It is always good news that US and China talk to each other. However, US-China relation is challenging, only a summit between Biden and Xi may be able to set a new course for moving forward. But first of all, Biden needs to announce his China strategy as soon as possible. Otherwise, it could be too late if Democratic loses the US mid-term election.
Secretary Blinken’s Call with People’s Republic of China (PRC) State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang
03/05/2022 09:00 AM EST
Office of the Spokesperson
The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with PRC State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi about Moscow’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified war against Ukraine. The Secretary noted the world is watching to see which nations stand up for the basic principles of freedom, self-determination and sovereignty. He underscored that the world is acting in unison to repudiate and respond to the Russian aggression, ensuring that Moscow will pay a high price.
By Global Times Published: Mar 05, 2022 10:40 PM
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Saturday the Ukraine crisis can only be solved through dialogue and negotiations and stressed that China supports all efforts that help ease tensions and push for political solution, and opposes all actions that are not conducive to diplomatic resolution but add fuel to the fire.
He made the comments during a phone conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday. This marks the two officials’ second phone conversation within two weeks. It also happened after Russia declared a partial ceasefire on Saturday to allow humanitarian corridors out of the Ukrainian cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha, according to Russia’s defense ministry.
Blinken briefed Wang about the US stance on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Wang said that China had not wanted to see the Ukraine crisis escalate to the current situation.
The Ukraine issue is compplex, which involves the basic principles of international relations, and was closely related to the interests of all parties, said Wang, noting that as a permanent member of UN Security Council, China decides its own position and policy based on the merits of the matter itself.
China believes that the Ukraine crisis should be resolved in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, Wang pointed out, noting that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected and safeguarded and disputes must be resolved through dialogue and peaceful means.
China hopes crossfire can be stopped as soon as possible and the situation on the ground can be eased so as to prevent large scale humanitarian crisis, Wang said.
The Ukraine crisis can only eventually be solved through dialogue and negotiations. China would support all efforts that help in easing the situation and reaching a political solution, said Wang.
China would oppose any action that doesn’t avail a diplomatic solution but would instead stoke an escalation to the situation. China will continue to speak and strive for peace. We encourage direct negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, Wang said.
The foreign minister also said that although as things stand negotiations may not proceed smoothly, international society should still cooperate and support bilateral talks until their negotiations come to fruition, and peace is agreed upon.
We also encourage the US, NATO and the EU to hold fair talks with Russia and face up to contradictions and problems that have been piled up for a number of years, putting an emphasis on the negative impact on Russia’s security environment of the NATO’s continued expansion eastward. It’s hoped that the creation of a balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism will be pursued based on the principle of inseparable security, Wang said.
As for China-US relations, Wang noted that the most important thing for bilateral relations is to push to implement and realize the consensus reached by video conference between two leaders. He said that China is deeply concerned as some speeches and actions from the US side have gone against the goal.
Taiwan is an indispensable part of China, and the Taiwan question is part of China’s domestic affairs, the US should stop supporting “Taiwan secessionism” and interfering with China’s domestic affairs, and maintain the bilateral relationship with actual actions, said Wang.
The two sides also exchanged their views on the situation in the Korean Peninsula.