Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
January 17, 2023
It is always good news that high level officials from the US and China are meeting face to face. The COVID pandemic created devasting impacts on the world, but it might have successfully “cooled down” the red-hot US-China confrontations with a real risk of world war.
The world is full of urgent challenges now, the COVID pandemic is still a global threat, the war in Ukraine has lasted almost one year with no end in sight…The US and China should keep in mind that they both have a joint global responsibility that includes maintain reasonable economic growth, help the underdeveloped nations with a huge population who are suffering day and night.
Put it another way, both the US and China should not be selfish focusing on their citizen’s interests alone. Thus, they must look ahead and move forward. Settling old scores will take time and wisdom, issues “ranging from Taiwan and trade policy to U.S. concerns about Beijing’s human rights record” are very important to the US and allies. But if they become the US opening statements at every bilateral meeting then any compromise for practical issues such as restoring international travel etc. will be difficult. Similarly, the US policy “restricting exports of microchips used in advanced computing and military applications and to deepen its military alliance with China’s archrival Japan” will not change after one or two bilateral high level meetings.
Instead of publicly stiffing their hardline positions before the meeting and demanding the other side to make concessions, it would be more practical to offer some alternatives from each side or set some specific goals. For example, Secretary Yellen’s meeting with Vice Premier Liu at Davos will move bilateral trade relations forward.
A productive Blinken-Qin meeting in Beijing next month should result more bilateral minister-level meetings at both nations, preferred in DC and Beijing. The US and China must look forward and move forward with more actions, rather than just high-level political discussions. If the US and China cannot move forward steadily then it means a deterioration in bilateral relation: status quo is not sustainable.
Blinken to test limits of China’s diplomatic engagement on Feb. 5-6 Beijing trip
Phelim Kine Mon, January 16, 2023 at 1:03 PM PST
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet in Beijing with his counterpart, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, on Feb. 5-6, Washington-based diplomats familiar with Blinken’s travel plans told POLITICO.
The visit is a test of whether the Biden-Xi meeting has paved the way for more productive U.S.-China ties at a time when the relationship has become increasingly rancorous over issues ranging from Taiwan and trade policy to U.S. concerns about Beijing’s human rights record.
“Sometimes U.S.-China relations have to get dangerously bad before the two governments can invest more effort in improving relations,” said Susan Shirk, former deputy assistant secretary of State and chair of the 21st Century China Center at the University of California San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy.
Shirk said Blinken’s Beijing trip would reflect whether the ruling Chinese Communist Party, “having just made a sudden pragmatic reversal of its Covid policies, … is willing to moderate other foreign and domestic policies to reduce the costs they have caused China.”
Qin — who assumed the foreign minister job in January after a mostly frosty 17 months as China’s ambassador to the U.S. — has signaled that he’s open to making Blinken’s visit a success. In a farewell tweet earlier this month, Qin praised past “candid, in-depth and constructive meetings” with Blinken and said he anticipated “continuing close working relations with him for a better China-US relationship.” That suggests that Beijing wants to stem the slide in bilateral ties that has prompted the U.S. to restrict exports of microchips used in advanced computing and military applications and to deepen its military alliance with China’s archrival Japan.
But former Foreign Minister Wang Yi, whose appointment earlier this month to lead the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission makes him China’s top diplomat, might make that an uphill battle.
“The United States has stubbornly continued to see China as its primary competitor and engage in blatant blockade, suppression and provocation against China,” Wang said in a speech last month.
Chinese foreign ministry welcomes visit by U.S. Secretary Blinken
Mon, January 16, 2023 at 11:53 PM PST
BEIJING (Reuters) -China welcomes a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the country, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said at a regular news briefing on Tuesday.
“China welcomes Secretary of State Blinken’s visit to China. Both China and the United States are in communication now over the specific arrangements,” Wang Wenbin said, responding to a question on a U.S. media report that Blinken is visiting China on Feb. 5.
“(China) also hopes the United States will adopt a correct view of China, uphold dialogue rather than confrontation, win-win rather than zero-sum (thinking),” Wang added.
Global Time: China welcomes Blinken’s visit; ‘time for US to make changes’
By Yang Sheng Published: Jan 17, 2023 11:09 PM
China welcomes US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to visit China and is in communication with the US side on specific arrangements for the visit, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Tuesday, as Chinese experts said it is time for the US to make some changes to actively fix the damaged bilateral ties and bring good news for the fragile global recovery.
Wang said “China has always viewed and developed its relations with the US in accordance with the three principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation.”
But according to Politico, some US observers like Susan Shirk, former deputy assistant secretary of state, consider that this potential visit will test to what extent China will “moderate” its foreign and domestic policies to satisfy the US. Chinese analysts said such thinking is laughable and unhelpful for the recovery of bilateral ties, which matter a great deal for world peace and global economic recovery.
Lü Xiang, an expert on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday that “many US elites believe that US-China ties could only be fixed when China makes compromises or changes. This is very unrealistic and contradictory to the history of China-US relations.”
Some US media always want to make China look like the side that is asking for tensions to be eased, turning a blind eye to the fact that it is the White House and the US State Department that desperately want to make the visit happen, said Chinese experts.
With the data sending message of an economy in recession, the Biden administration needs to bring back economic confidence, so what the US needs to do at the moment is to make full use of engagement with China to fix the damaged supply chains and save its own economy which is certainly in trouble. For instance, they should cancel the restrictions and sanctions that target China’s development but in fact harm the US economy as well, analysts said.
According to the Xinhua News Agency, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen will meet in Zurich, Switzerland, on Wednesday to strengthen macroeconomic and financial policy coordination, a spokesperson from China’s Ministry of Commerce said on Monday.
Yellen Sets Surprise Meeting With China’s Liu in Switzerland
Mon, January 16, 2023 at 6:35 AM PST
(Bloomberg) — US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will hold her first face-to-face meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He on Jan. 18 in Zurich, making a detour on her way to talks in Africa.
The pair “will exchange views on macroeconomic developments and other economic issues,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.
China’s Ministry of Commerce confirmed the meeting late Monday, saying it’s aimed at strengthening economic and financial policy coordination, and implementing the “agreements” made during a summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Joe Biden late last year. Trade teams have maintained “sound communication,” the ministry said.