China urges US to establish dialogue at all levels on broad range of fields, offers detailed suggestions on ties
Published: Feb 22, 2021 08:42 AM

Photo: Yang Sheng/GT

China urged the US to establish dialogue mechanisms in various areas and at various levels and properly manage their differences, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Monday in a speech on how to bring China-US relations back to the right track, which analysts said shows China's sincerity and approach to restore ties with the US.

"Over the past few years, the US basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels. And this was one of the main reasons for the deterioration in China-US relations," Wang Yi said in his address to the Opening of the Lanting Forum on Promoting Dialogue and Cooperation and Managing Differences: Bringing China-US Relations Back to the Right Track. 

Wang's speech was consistent with China's policy toward the US, and is so far the most detailed suggestions on the development of China-US ties since Joe Biden took office.

However, the US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Monday that Wang's comments "reflect a continued pattern of Beijing's tendency to avert blame for its predatory economic practices, its lack of transparency, its failure to honor its international agreements, and its repression of universal human rights," reported Reuters.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin responded to the accusations at Tuesday's routine press conference, saying that "China has repeatedly stated its position, presenting facts and data. Anyone who is not biased against China can come to an objective and fair conclusion."

Analysts said Wang's speech conveys China's sincerity in seeking to improve ties and manage differences so as to help the Biden administration release a policy toward China that is healthy for both countries. China and the US should find a way to prevent the existing distrust from falling into more social, economic and technological decoupling, Chinese observers said, believing cooperation should start with resumption of economic and people-to-people exchanges.

The Chinese State Councilor said that first of all, the two countries should respect each other and not to interfere in each other's internal affairs. 

"We urge the US to stop smearing the Communist Party of China and China's political system, stop conniving with or even supporting the erroneous words and actions of 'Taiwan independence' forces, and stop undermining China's sovereignty and security on internal affairs concerning Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet," Wang Yi said. 

He said to bring China-US relations back to the right back, it is important to clear the path for the resumption of bilateral exchanges in all areas, and China is ready to work with the US with an open mind to build a good environment for people-to-people exchanges. 

China hopes the US to lift its restrictions on Chinese educational and cultural groups, media outlets and institutions for overseas Chinese affairs in the US, remove its obstructions for the US' local governments and social sectors to engage with China, Wang Yi said.

Graphic: Xu Zihe and Zhao Jun/GT

Over the past 40 years, China and the US have forged deep bonds. There are 50 pairs of sister provinces or states and 232 pairs of sister cities. China has been the biggest source of international students in the US for 10 years in a row, but these normal exchanges were seriously disrupted. 

The number of Chinese visitors to the US, either for exchange programs or study, had plummeted lately. The social foundation of bilateral ties was poisoned which should not be allowed to happen in the first place, Wang Yi said. 

Wang Yi said that the first phone call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden on the Lunar New Year's Eve has oriented China-US relations that had been struggling to ascertain its bearings at the crossroads.

Fu Ying, former vice Chinese foreign minister and vice-chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee of China's National People's Congress, said at the Lanting Forum that China and the US should not have "strategic competition," which would lead to lose-lose consequences.

China won't be afraid of competition, but the competition should not be "strategic," and needs to be healthy and virtuous, said Fu.

China made the first move in showing such detailed kindness, which demonstrates China's real intention to restore ties with the US, and Wang Yi's speech will make sure the Biden administration interprets and evaluates policies relating to China correctly before it releases its China policy, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times.

The phone calls between the two top leaders during the Chinese New Year already showed that the communication channel between the leaders has opened, and in the next step, bilateral departments should start to build more concrete communication mechanisms to resolve their differences. Trade could be the first field in which they do this, Li said.

Now that China has shown its sincerity to the US, it is now up to the US to make adjustments and move to respond to China's kindness, Sun Chenghao,  an assistant research professor with the Institute of America Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times on Monday.

He believed that there is a foundation within the Biden administration to restore bilateral relations, especially in the field of people-to-people exchanges, given that many members of the Biden team have benefited from the bilateral exchanges. 

It is natural for China and the US to have disagreements due to different social systems, development stages, history and culture. What is crucial is to enhance mutual understanding through dialogue and not allow our relations to be defined by disagreements, Wang Yi said. 

The Chinese State Councilor said that the two sides should engage in candid dialogues on a broad range of issues in bilateral relations and on major regional and international issues, so as to get a clear understanding of each other's policy intentions, sort out the critical issues in China-US relations, and explore effective ways to manage sensitive issues, ward off risks and remove obstacles.

"China is, as always, open to dialogue. We stand ready to have candid communication with the US, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems," Wang Yi said. 

Wang Jisi, president of the Institute of International and Strategic Studies of Peking University, said at the Lanting Forum that at this moment there is almost no mutual trust between the two major political parties in the US, even though they are from the same nation. "So how can China and the US, with their different histories and political systems, commercial practices and cultural values, get to trust each other?" 

"The real issue now is not how to rebuild trust. The most daunting challenge is that the two countries have found that it's hard to find a way to prevent the existing distrust from falling into more decoupling in social, economic and technological terms," Wang Jisi said.

To right the wrongs and bring the China-US relation back to the right track, the walls of misperceptions must be torn down first to clear the way for knowing, observing and understanding China, Wang Yi said.