Chinese, US officials conclude candid talks, agree to properly handle Taiwan question
Published: Dec 12, 2022 10:04 PM Updated: Dec 12, 2022 09:56 PM
China-US relationship. Illustration: Liu Rui/Global Times

China-US relationship. Illustration: Liu Rui/Global Times

 Senior Chinese and US officials met in North China's Hebei from Sunday to Monday, with both sides saying that the latest meeting was candid, in-depth and constructive, and agreeing to maintain communication, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Monday. Chinese experts believed that the continuing communication and cooperation between the world's two largest economies, which clearly benefits the world, should be based on taking each other's core interests into account, while warning of duplicity in Washington's China policy.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng met US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink and National Security Council Senior Director for China Laura Rosenberger in Langfang, North China's Hebei Province. The two sides had in-depth communication on following through on the common understandings between the two heads of state in Bali, advancing consultations on the principles guiding China-US relations, properly handling important and sensitive issues in bilateral relations including the Taiwan question, Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told a routine press conference on Monday.

The two sides also had in-depth communication on strengthening interactions at all levels and advancing cooperation in relevant fields, and had a broad exchange of views on international and regional issues of mutual interest, Wang noted. They both believed that the meeting was candid, in-depth and constructive, and agreed to maintain communication, the Chinese official said.

The US State Department said earlier during the weekend that the high-level US delegation would travel to China, South Korea and Japan from Sunday to Wednesday, and during their visit to China, they will follow up on recent talks between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia and prepare for Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to China in early 2023.

While some Chinese experts see China and the US agreeing on pushing forward cooperation in various sectors as a positive signal for bilateral relations, the Biden administration has been racing to unite allies to contain China, constantly hyping China's "military threat," and taking China and Russia as major strategic rivals. Particularly on the Taiwan question, Washington recently increased arms sales to the island and boosted military exchanges with the island, fully exposing the deep-rooted duplicity in Washington's China policy, experts said.

Core interests
The latest meeting between senior officials of the two countries agreed on enhancing exchanges at all levels, focusing on concrete steps in reaching those goals and drawing up a broad consensus, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Monday. "Cooperation based on candid and practical communication should be further advanced," he said.

Still, such cooperation and communication should be based on respecting each other's core interests, which means the US needs to respect China's position on the Taiwan question. It also serves as a reference on whether the two countries will handle their bilateral relations smoothly, Li said.

Recently, the US has authorized new arms sales to Taiwan to encourage the secessionist authorities on the island, despite US President Joe Biden's promises that the US "doesn't support 'Taiwan Independence'," and this has brought condemnation and warnings from the Chinese mainland.

Relations between China and the US have dived to a historical low after the outgoing US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's provocative visit to the island, in which she met with secessionists in August, drawing a series of countermeasures from China.

Taiwan is expanding its "military delegation" in the US from January 2023, with a liaison officer dedicated to cooperation between the armed forces from the island and the US military in combat training, Taiwan media reported on Monday.

The DPP authorities continue to hype up the "outcome" of US-Taiwan cooperation, which will inevitably lead to increased tensions across the Taiwan Straits and risk creating greater conflicts in the future, Wang Jianmin, a senior cross-Straits expert at Minnan Normal University in Fujian Province, told the Global Times on Monday.

The DPP authorities have been looking to the US for protection, but the island of Taiwan is just a card being used by the US to balance the Chinese mainland, Wang said.

Some experts believed that the recent meeting between the heads of state of the two countries helped prevent China-US relations from further declining, and the latest communication between senior officials of the two sides has paved the way for future dialogue.

From the perspective of the US, competition and confrontation are undoubtedly the major driving forces in the formulation of its China policy, so it's unrealistic to expect a drastic change in US policy toward China, some experts said.

"There are still many issues and areas where China and the US can cooperate. If we want to maintain long-term and stable relations between the two countries, promoting cooperation is the direction we should work hard for," Li said.

Washington's duplicity
The US defines China as "the most serious competitor" and "the most serious long-term geopolitical challenge", due to grave strategic misperception and misjudgment, while healthy, stable and cooperative trade relations with China will serve America's own interests, Qin Gang, Chinese Ambassador to the US, told the USCBC Gala 2022 recently.

Driven by zero-sum mentality, the US has been lobbying its allies to contain China despite seeking stabilization of ties with the country recently. For instance, the US has directly asked the Japanese government for cooperation in stymieing China's efforts to develop high-end semiconductors, some Japanese media reported.

The request, noting that the countries are allies sharing a strategy against China, was made by US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo during her phone conversation with Japanese industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura on Friday, Japanese media reported.

Also, an annual report on China's military development, released by the US Defense Department, deliberately hyped China's military strength, saying that Beijing "probably accelerated" its nuclear expansion last year and was on track to having a stockpile of 1,500 nuclear weapons by 2035.

The White House also called China's recent interaction with Arab countries including Saudi Arabia as an example of Chinese attempts to exert its influence around the world, and that it will not change US policy toward the Middle East.

"These fully exposed the deep-rooted duplicity of China policy by the Biden administration, as it has always put competition above everything," Lü Xiang, research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday.

"They also understand that such competition could turn into a real conflict if it's not properly handled. But from the meeting in Bali, both sides realized that the tensions between the two countries should not escalate further," he said.