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China says imperative to stabilise Sino-US relations

2023-05-08T05:12:04Z

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang attends a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (not pictured) at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, April 14, 2023. Suo Takekuma/Pool via REUTERS

China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang said on Monday it is imperative to stabilise Sino-U.S. relations after a series of “erroneous words and deeds” threw ties back into a deep freeze.

Qin, in a meeting in Beijing with U.S. ambassador Nicholas Burns, stressed in particular that the United States must correct its handling of the Taiwan issue and stop the hollowing out of the “one China” principle.

The relationship between the world’s two biggest economies sank to a low last year when then speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi paid an official visit to democratically governed Taiwan, angering China, which claims the island as its territory.

In response, Beijing severed formal communications channels with the United States including one between their militaries.

The tension between the two superpowers eased in November when U.S. and Chinese leaders, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, met at a G20 summit in Indonesia and pledged more frequent dialogue.

“A series of erroneous words and deeds by the United States since then have undermined the hard-won positive momentum of Sino-U.S. relations,” Qin told Burns, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The agenda of dialogue and cooperation agreed by the two sides has been disrupted, and the relationship between the two countries has once again encountered cold ice.”

Tensions flared in February when a Chinese high-altitude balloon appeared in U.S. airspace and in response U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelled a visit to Beijing.

Last week, Blinken appeared to offer hope of a visit, telling the Washington Post that it was important to re-establish regular lines of communication at all levels.

Also last week, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said China had invited him to visit “in the near term” for talks on averting a global climate crisis, offering hope of resetting one of the world’s most important state-to-state relationships.

“Sino-U.S. relations are of great significance not only to China and the United States, but also to the world,” Qin said.

“The top priority is to stabilise Sino-U.S. relations, avoid a downward spiral and prevent any accidents between China and the United States.”