US' China travel warning ahead of upcoming Yellen's visit may impede thawing ties: analysts
Inconsistency of China policy in Biden administration has been exposed once again
Published: Jul 04, 2023 09:18 PM
File photo: China US

File photo: China US

The latest travel warning against China issued by Washington is just like a trivial patch of turbulence during a flight that may worry passengers temporarily but will not cause a catastrophic event such as a plane crash, said a Chinese observer, ahead of the scheduled China visit by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen this week.

Some Chinese observers believe it is a typical tactic of Washington in its China policy which sees it making "friendly overtures" while picking a fight at the same time, exposing divergences within the Biden administration. Despite these new obstacles put in place by Washington, Yellen's visit, on which American businesses have pinned great hopes, is expected to move China-US ties away from  their "lowest point."

Americans should reconsider traveling to the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions due to the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws, including in relation to exit bans, and the risk of wrongful detentions, the US State Department warned in an updated travel advisory issued Friday.

CNN on Monday cited a State Department spokesperson as saying that because the Chinese government "continues to engage in this practice" of "wrongful detention," the travel advisory has been updated.

The travel warning came ahead of Yellen's visit, which is scheduled for July 6-9.

Washington's travel advisory is based on groundless accusations and smears. On the one hand, it tries to cover up the constant and intensified gun violence and unrest in its own country by misleading the public and claiming "the situation in China is worse," Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

On the other hand, the travel warning is like a "trivial episode of turbulence during a flight" that serves as an obstacle to the potential ice-melting ties that should result from Yellen's upcoming visit, Lü noted. But this unpleasant episode would not impact the willingness of insightful people from both countries who call for warmer relations, pragmatic cooperation and active exchanges, considering the fact that China is one of the world's safest countries and the accusations against China's so-called arbitrary detention are nonsense.

Issuing the travel warning once again exposes the inconsistency of China policy in the Biden administration, said Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University. 

There is no doubt that there are a group of hawkish politicians in Washington who are trying to completely suppress the more rational and pragmatic atmosphere of understanding China that Yellen's China visit may bring, and their aim is to make US foreign policy tougher on China while stirring up a more hostile domestic atmosphere toward China, Li told the Global Times.

The American business community has pinned their hopes on Yellen's visit, as they believe a larger group of insightful people will rectify a series of wrongful economic and trade policies and measures adopted since the initiation of the trade war against China in 2018, said Lü. He noted that the US business community is really fed up with the US government's China policy.

The US secretary of the treasury is a key figure. As she is allowed to visit China, the Biden administration must have given her some room to improve China-US relations, Lü said.

Compared with her counterparts in Washington, Yellen has a relatively pragmatic attitude toward China. She has previously expressed opposition to "decoupling" from China and advocated for establishing "necessary" and "constructive" economic relations with China. She has also expressed her desire to visit China on multiple occasions. In a recent hearing last month, Yellen stated that it is not in US' interest to stifle the economic progress of the Chinese people, and that the US should applaud for China's success in lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.

However, before Yellen sets off, Washington has already revealed a number of crucial messages, and these complex signals are worth careful interpretation. Alongside the announcement of Yellen's visit to China, the US once again emphasized the so-called "three principles" regarding economic relations with China, which were proposed by Yellen in a speech in April. This seems to set the tone for Yellen's trip to China in advance, but these "three principles" do not release many positive signals for dialogue.

Chinese Ambassador to the US Xie Feng also remarked that "a sound and stable China-US relationship serves the common interests of the two countries and represents the shared aspiration of the international community," in a meeting with Yellen on Monday. Xie expressed China's major concerns on economic and trade issues and asked the US to attach great importance to them and take actions to resolve them. Both sides agreed that the meeting was candid and constructive, and agreed to continue to maintain communication, according to the Chinese embassy on Tuesday.

Observers said they are expecting small and accumulating breakthroughs during Yellen's visit could help thaw ties.

It is expected to be a small step for the two large economies, and a big leap for the global economy in the post-pandemic era, Lü stated.