Delegation of Chinese former officials, executives hold second dialogue with US counterparts
Published: Jun 30, 2023 01:01 AM
China-US Non-Government Leaders Dialogue is held on July 29, 2023. Photo: Chen Qingqing/GT

China-US Non-Government Leaders Dialogue is held on July 29, 2023. Photo: Chen Qingqing/GT

A delegation of Chinese former government officials and commerce representatives held a dialogue with their US counterparts online on Thursday, including the former Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai and a former deputy managing director of the IMF Zhu Min, in what was seen as important semi-official talks to de-escalate tensions between the two countries.

The first of the dialogues was held in New York in November 2022, with the group of former US officials and executives led by Maurice Greenberg, the former chairman and CEO of insurer American International Group, who is also known for his close ties with China.

The Chinese delegation was led by Wang Chao, a former vice-minister of foreign affairs and the director of the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs. It also included former Chinese commerce minister Chen Deming, former vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission Ning Jizhe, former vice minister of agriculture Yu Kangzhen and former head of China's Centre for Disease Control and Prevention Gao Fu.

In November 2022, Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden had a successful meeting in Bali and reached an important consensus, setting the direction for China-US relations. However, it is regrettable that since the beginning of this year, the development of China-US relations has deviated from its expected course and has been continually disrupted, going through various twists and turns, Wang said at the opening of the dialogue.

It is in the fundamental interests of the people of both countries, and also the common expectation of the international community, for China-US relations to stabilize and improve as soon as possible, he said.

Ten days ago, China welcomed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to visit China, and the two sides had frank, in-depth and constructive communication, achieving some positive consensus and results on the development of bilateral relations. "However, there is still a great deal of uncertainty as to whether China-US relations can emerge from their current difficulties," Wang said.

The dialogue was intended to offer positive suggestions for promoting the stable development of China-US relations, and the key is for both sides to find the correct way to coexist.

Greenberg said at the opening of the dialogue that since the last dialogue in New York, bilateral relations have continued to deteriorate. "This is unfortunate for both our countries," he said, noting that the dialogue and mutual understanding are essential to repair the relationship.

The retired American CEO, who is also a recipient of the China Reform Friendship Medal, wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal in July 2022 calling for efforts to rebuild US relations with China. With a group of senior US business and policy leaders, he also co-founded a group to develop a more constructive relationship with China and to foster measured but frank exchanges between the US and Chinese governments on issues of mutual concern.

After a two-hour closed-door meeting, the former Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai told the Global Times on late Thursday night that there was a board consensus at the dialogue that both sides are concerned about the current China-US relations and there is a need to change this course of deterioration via actions.

"Both sides made some suggestions, for example, by enhancing strategic communication and building correct understanding about each other, making correct judgement of each other's strategic intention and to prevent sensitive questions from becoming explosive ones," Cui said, noting that representatives from the Chinese side also mentioned the trade and sanction issues including the US' curbs on chipset against China.

China and the US stand at a new crossroads today, and only by adhering to the principle of mutual respect can the two countries embark on the right path, Wang said.

Likewise, the US also needs to respect China and not harm China's legitimate rights and interests. Peaceful coexistence is the fundamental bottom line that both sides must adhere to, he noted.

"Some Americans are always suspicious about China's development and strategic intentions, and are fond of saying that China's success will pose a threat to the US and the West. This is entirely a case of needless worry," Wang said.

Major power competition is not in line with the trend of the times, nor can it solve the problems faced by the US itself and the challenges faced by the world. Only by adhering to mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation can the two countries make the right choices that align with the fundamental interests of the people of both countries and the common expectations of the international community, Wang noted.

When asked on whether there's still a window of opportunity to improve the China-US relations before the US elections, Cui told the Global Times that it's never too late if there is a political will to do so. "China has demonstrated its political will on multiple occasions. But it takes two to tango."