US urged to take more actions to offset uncertainties from its duplicity despite positive signals
Published: Nov 03, 2023 10:31 PM
China US Photo:VCG

China US Photo:VCG

China's climate change envoy Xie Zhenhua is set to hold talks with his US counterpart John Kerry in California from November 4 to 7, China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment announced on Friday, amid the recent atmosphere of detente and engagement ahead of a possible Xi-Biden meeting in San Francisco later this month.

In addition to the field of climate change, China and the US have recently made or are about to make contacts and exchanges in a number of areas, including agriculture, trade and commerce, science and technology, and military. Analysts believe the stabilization of relations between the world's top two economies sends a positive signal to a world in turmoil.

However, considering the reality that the structural contradictions between China and the US have not been resolved, and that Washington continues to make petty actions against China, relations remain fragile, experts said, while also calling on the US to show more sincerity in its actions and remove domestic disruptive factors as much as possible to avoid more friction, which would in turn bring more uncertainties to the world and more passivity to the US' own strategy.

In response to the announcement of the climate envoys' meeting, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a press briefing on Friday that "the two sides will have an in-depth exchange of views on promoting actions and cooperation on climate change and supporting the success of COP28 in Dubai, so as to join hands to address the challenges and jointly contribute to global climate governance and sustainable development."

Also on Friday, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce briefed that China's Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao has met with Sanjay Mehrotra, president and CEO of US chip giant Micron Technology on Wednesday.

The two nations also held the first round of maritime affairs consultations in Beijing, co-chaired by Hong Liang, director-general of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs of Chinese Foreign Ministry, and Washington's China Coordinator Mark Lambert.

A delegation from 11 groups including the US Soybean Export Council, US Grains Council and US Wheat Associates started their China tour to expand cooperation on Thursday, after Chinese grain buyers signed agreements in Iowa to buy billions of dollars worth of produce, mostly soybeans, the first such signing since 2017, according to a Reuters report.

The US is also sending its highest-level delegation ever to participate in the sixth China International Import Expo, which opens in Shanghai on Sunday.

Moreover, the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday announced that China and the US will hold arms control and non-proliferation consultations at the director-general level in Washington DC next week. The two sides will exchange views on a wide range of issues such as the implementation of international arms control treaties and non-proliferation.

On Monday, Chinese Vice President Han Zheng met with a delegation of Flying Tigers veterans in Beijing, noting that China and the US should adhere to mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation and make greater contribution to world peace and development, according to Xinhua News Agency.

The recent frequent multi-level and multi-field contacts and exchanges between China and the US were rarely seen since the normalization of bilateral relations, Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Friday.

Such interactions have helped to improve the strained atmosphere, Lü said, "The two sides put both divergences and prospects for cooperation on the table."

Dong Chunling, an associate research fellow at the Institute of American Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times that the slew of cooperation activities and interactions between China and the US has sent a positive signal to a world in chaos.

President Joe Biden needs to inject some stability into the US-China relationship to boost his electoral fortunes, as well as to better meet domestic and diplomatic challenges, Dong said, "As the world faces recession and geopolitical conflict, a stable US-China relationship is what the world wants."

China US

China US

Uncertainties still persist

Analysts believe that in order to forge a better atmosphere for the meeting between the heads of state of China and the US, the coming period is crucial, and while there are currently good signs, it's not enough.

In parallel with the détente and engagement, the US has not stopped its petty actions against China, from its hyping of a Chinese fighter jet intercepting US military aircraft in the South China Sea, to the arrangement of an "Indo-Pacific" tour for US Secretary of State Antony Blinken with a strong sense of bloc confrontation.

On Thursday (local time), the US imposed sanctions on 130 companies and entities, including three Chinese companies, for "supplying Moscow with goods that can be used for military purposes."

Washington's China policies have always been two-sided: maintaining cooperative relations with China on the one hand, while containing and suppressing China on the other, Lü said.

The frequency of recent contacts between the two sides is unprecedented, but so is the element of suppression in US policy toward China since the Trump era, he remarked.

China should not expect US duplicity to change in the foreseeable future, as Americans always hope to increase their leverage in this way, but the question the US faces is, which is the element that Washington wants to dominate in bilateral ties, destructive behavior, or cooperation?

Speaking at an Asia Society event in Washington on Thursday, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that a full de-coupling of the US and Chinese economies was "simply not practical," according to a Reuters report.

"A full separation of our economies, or an approach in which countries including those in the Indo-Pacific are forced to take sides, would have significant negative global repercussions," Yellen said. "We have no interest in such a divided world and its disastrous effects."

The US is still focusing more on the narrative when it comes to substantively improving relations between the two countries, Lü said, "It needs to show more sincerity in action."

For example, China is concerned about the tariffs, technology export restrictions, suppression of China's green industry, as well as issues related to security, problems that require actions from the US to adjust and solve, he noted.

"If the possible meeting between the top leaders of the two countries finally materializes, it would mean that the US-China consultations prior to the heads of state talks have yielded more results. And it can thus be expected that the top leaders' meeting will in turn lead to more results, and this will create a more benign interaction," Lü said.

While that remains to be seen, for now, before the possible high-level meeting, there will still be further exchanges at the working level, he added.

The US side needs to further restrain some of the behavior of government departments to avoid letting relations become impacted by unexpected events, such as the "spying balloon," because the structural contradictions have not been eased, and the stabilized relationship is still fragile, Dong said.

If the talks between the heads of state are difficult to materialize because of problems on the US side, it will not only be a major diplomatic setback and failure for Washington, but will also bring more risks to a chaotic world, Dong said.

"It is naive for some Americans to think that no matter how chaotic the world is, the US can be left alone. In fact, if the problems in global governance cannot be solved well with joint efforts, strategically, the Americans will also fall into greater passivity," Lü said.