Remarks by US officials send out mixed signals; Republicans’ interference stumbling block to high-level exchanges: experts
Published: Jun 29, 2023 09:09 PM Updated: Jun 29, 2023 11:59 PM
China-US Photo: GT

China-US Photo: GT

Shortly after the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken concluded his visit to China that helped relaunch the high-level exchanges between the two countries, the US top diplomat came up with some remarks addressing the US-China relations, which according to some experts, unleashed mixed signals, putting the sincerity of Washington to repair the soured ties into question. 

Experts pointed out that the Biden administration appears to lack the ability to manage domestic politics regarding stabilizing China ties, as recent negative moves of Republicans on the Taiwan question and other China-related issues are seen as a major stumbling block to high-level exchanges despite that more US officials expressed the hope to reengage with China, experts said. 

Blinken said in a conversation at the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday that the US and China need to find a way to "coexist peacefully" amid heightened competition, claiming that the US relationship with China is a "long-term competition" without a "clear finish line," according to US media reports. 

Blinken also said that holding back China was counter to US interests, saying that the US wants to make sure that in the competition with China, the US is “in a position of strength” and “able to shape what comes next,” according to the Voice of America. 

Blinken's remarks were made ahead of a planned trip of the US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to China in July. Yellen was quoted as saying in media reports on Thursday that she hopes to travel to China to reestablish contact, acknowledging there were disagreements between the two countries. 

Some experts say Blinken's remarks are full of contradictions, reflecting Washington's ulterior intention to contain and suppress China at a low cost. It also showed the inconsistency of the Biden administration as on one hand, it needs to work with China on some of its domestic woes and global issues in order to achieve its own interest, on the other hand, it fails to demonstrate sincerity for repairing the soured relations by properly managing its domestic politics, especially the premise of peaceful coexistence between the two countries is that the US cannot challenge China's core interests like the Taiwan question or cross its bottom-line. 

Premise of peaceful co-existence

Blinken's beautiful words about the US-China peaceful coexistence aimed to assure some American companies, individuals and its allies, however, he also emphasized to ensure US interests and advantages, which is actually the true side of his remarks, experts said. "So those words won't fool people who have deep understanding about the US diplomacy and its China policy," Li Haidong, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Thursday.   

"His statement is indeed that of a typical politician," he said. 

Blinken stood by US President Joe Biden after Biden attacked the Chinese leader verbally, as he said that the US President "speaks for all of us." Blinken also emphasized that he told his counterpart in China during his trip to Beijing that "we are going to do things" that China does not like. 

China expressed dissatisfaction on Thursday toward the abovementioned remarks made by Blinken. Out of the wrong understanding of China, the US pursues the wrong policy toward China, contains and suppresses China, attacks and smears China for no reason, and arbitrarily interferes in China's internal affairs, Mao Ning, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at a press conference on Thursday. 

"What the US has said and done violates the basic norms governing international relations, and China is firmly opposed to it," she said. 

"The US seeks to outcompete China with low costs, that's why the US officials said they don't want conflict with us," Wu Xinbo, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

Also, by saying "peaceful co-existence," Blinken is calling out to some American hawks who advocate for confrontation with China with all costs. But for us, the premise of the peaceful coexistence is that the US cannot challenge China's core interests and bottom-line, for example, on the Taiwan question, Wu said. 

A US bipartisan congressional delegation led by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers landed in Taiwan on Tuesday for a three-day visit, which came at a sensitive time as the Biden administration is taking several steps aimed at stabilizing the bilateral relationship with China.

"The Biden administration should have played out its political influence to reduce the interference by Republicans in the US-China relations and to create a positive environment for future engagement," Diao Daming, an associate professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

Blinken's statement reflects a state of contradiction in America, Diao noted. "The US wants to stabilize its domestic economy with China's help in order to create a stable geopolitical environment ahead of its elections season but it seeks such 'peaceful co-existence' only for its own interests." 

The negative moves of Republicans and Congress will definitely interfere with the resumption of high-level exchanges between the two countries, some experts said. "But the US government lacks sincerity and the ability to manage domestic politics, which makes it difficult for it to meet China halfway," Wu said. 

Mixed signals 

Although the Chinese Foreign Ministry has not confirmed Yellen's visit to China, the US Treasury chief told MSNBC that her hope in traveling to China is to reestablish contact. "There are a new group of leaders, we need to get to know one another," she said. 

"And we need to discuss our disagreements with one another so that we don't have misunderstandings, don't misunderstand one another's intentions," Yellen said, who also emphasized protection on the US' national security interests even if it "imposes some economic costs on us." 

Yellen's relatively positive narrative implies the US side's hope of strengthening communications with the Chinese side on macro-economic policies and deepening understanding of each other so as to control differences, said He Weiwen, a senior fellow at the Center for China and Globalization and former economic and commercial counselor in the Chinese consulates general in San Francisco and New York.

"However, Yellen may also assert new demands for China during her trip to China, for example, about China's monetary, trade and economic policies," He said, noting that China should not let down its guard as the US' strategy of containing China remains unchanged.

China-US economic and trade cooperation has always been a ballast stone for China-US relationship, but sound cooperation has been seriously damaged by political factors from the US, leading to further deterioration, the expert said, noting that the major impediment is the US' persistent blockade of and "decoupling" from China in high technologies.

The Biden administration is weighing additional curbs on China's ability to access critical technology, including restricting the sale of high-end chips used to power artificial intelligence, the New York Times reported on Wednesday. 

The curbs would clamp down on the sales to China of advanced chips made by companies like Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices and Intel, which are needed for the data centers that power artificial intelligence, the media report said. 

While Yellen has stressed the US should "de-risk" rather than "decouple" from China, the crux is that the US frequently abuses the so-called "national security." China and the US should strengthen communication on "national security" in order to give a clear definition on the concept, He said.