Talks between senior officials from the US and China have struck an optimistic note, with both sides agreeing to maintain open lines of communication, China’s foreign ministry.
“The two sides engaged in candid, constructive, and fruitful communication on enhancing Sino-U.S. relations, as well as managing and addressing differences,” stated the ministry in a press release on Tuesday.
However, Beijing remains cautious about perceived “provocative” actions by the US, and the risk of potential still lingers.
Statements released by Washington and Beijing regarding the meetings between Daniel Kritenbrink, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Chinese officials, including Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu, were positive, describing the discussions as candid and productive.
China said the two sides discussed “properly managing in accordance with the consensus reached by the two heads of state at their Bali meeting in November last year.”
Positive note amid tensions
Late on Monday, the US State Department also affirmed the candid and productive nature of the highlighting their efforts to maintain open communication channels and build on recent high-level diplomacy between the two nations.
The Biden administration has been actively pursuing increased engagement with China, particularly as tensions have escalated between the world’s two largest economies over various issues, including Taiwan — which China claims as its own — and military activities in the South China Sea.
Prior to Kritenbrink’s visit to Beijing on Sunday, the US Navy reported an “unsafe interaction” the day before, when a Chinese warship crossed in front of a US destroyer in the sensitive Taiwan Strait. This incident raised concerns about potential future confrontations that could escalate.
Kritenbrink’s visit followed China’s recent of a formal meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who had sought to engage with his Chinese counterpart but was met with a refusal.
When asked about the current state of bilateral ties during a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday, Kritenbrink expressed his commitment to managing the relationship to the best of their abilities.
“The two sides exchanged views on the bilateral relationship, cross-Strait issues, channels of communication, and other matters,” the US State Department said, referring to the Taiwan Strait.
But US officials also “made clear that the United States would compete vigorously and stand up for US interests and values”, the statement added.
Why are relations strained
A report by the state-backed Chinese newspaper Global Times on Monday evening noted that recent interactions between China and the United States indicate that both sides are attempting to manage disputes.
It added that the risk of cconfrontation remains, particularly if Washington continues to engage in and fails to demonstrate sincerity in improving relations. The article emphasized that China is willing to stabilize the relationship and explore cooperation, but it will also firmly respond to any provocations by the US.
The strained ties between the two nations took a significant downturn in February when Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a trip to China due to the presence of a Chinese flying in U.S. airspace.
Regarding the possibility of a meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit in San Francisco in November, Kritenbrink stated, “I couldn’t possibly say.” Similarly, when asked about a potential visit by Blinken to China in the near future, he replied, “We’ll see, I have nothing to announce.”
tg/kb (AFP, Reuters)
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