In response to US sanctions against Chinese firms and officials, Beijing has begun issuing its own reciprocal measures, including most recently former US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Sophie Richardson, director of Human Rights Watch’s China department, among four others on Saturday.
At a meeting with his US counterpart on Monday, Chinese foreign vice-minister Xie Feng presented the US with two lists: one contained remedial actions Beijing expected from Washington before further meetings would be agreed to, and the other a list of concerns China has about actions and policies in the United States.
“She’s going to underscore that we do not want that stiff and sustained competition to veer into conflict,” the official said. “Everyone needs to play by the same rules and on a level playing field.”
However, as is often the case in international diplomacy, the two nations clearly have different ideas of what a “level playing field” looks like. That was the message Xie delivered, saying in a statement after his meeting with Sherman that the US-China relationship had reached a “stalemate and faces serious difficulties … because some Americans portray China as an ‘imagined enemy.’”
“The hope may be that by demonizing China, the US could somehow shift domestic public discontent over political, economic and social issues and blame China for its own structural problems,” Xie said. “It seems that a whole-of-government and whole-of-society campaign is being waged to bring China down. It is as if when China’s development is contained, all US domestic and external challenges would go away, and America would become great again and Pax Americana would continue to go on.
According to the South China Morning Post, the two lists Xie gave Sherman included the following items:
- Remove visa restrictions on Communist Party of China members, their families, and Chinese students
Remove sanctions against Chinese leaders, government officials and state agencies
- End restrictions on Confucius Institutes and Chinese companies in the US
- Stop listing Chinese media as foreign agents
- Stop seeking extradition of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou from Canada
- Unfair treatment of Chinese citizens in the US
- Harassment of China’s US embassy and consulates
- Rise in violent attacks against Chinese and Chinese-Americans in the US
However, US accusations of malign activities by China are wide-ranging, from territorial claims in the South China Sea to the national security law in Hong Kong, China’s policy regarding Taiwan as a rebellious province of the country, and anti-extremist programs in Xinjiang the US claims amount to “genocide” against the Muslim Uyghur population.
Sherman also met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday. According to US State Department spokesperson Ned Price, they had a “frank and open discussion” about “ways to set terms for responsible management of the US-China relationship.”
“We were quite direct with each other on the areas of great difference,” she said of her meeting with Wang. “On areas where we have common interests and there are great global interests, we had very substantive discussions, shared some ideas. We will have to see where that goes.”
In this photo provided by the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi sit together in Tianjin, China, Monday, July 26, 2021.
Prior to their meeting, Wang said on Saturday that China would have to give the US a “tutorial” on how to treat other countries as equals.
“However, I would like to tell the US side clearly that there has never been a country in this world that is superior to others, nor should there be, and China will not accept any country claiming to be superior to others,” Wang added, according to SCMP. “If the United States has not learned how to get along with other countries on an equal footing by now, then it is our responsibility, together with the international community, to give the US a good tutorial in this regard.”
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