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Wang’s trip to US ‘crucial’, to pave the way for higher-level of interactions

Wu Xinbo

Global Times 2023-10-24

Member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Photo: AFP

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is scheduled to visit the US later this week as the interaction between China and the US is currently showing signs of a comprehensive recovery with increasing engagement to enhance understanding and improve the atmosphere. Chinese observers believe the visit will pave the way for a possible meeting between the head of the two states, but added that Washington needs to make concrete efforts to address Beijing's concerns and show its sincerity.

At the invitation of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit the US from October 26 to 28, Mao Ning, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, announced on Tuesday.

Wang is expected to meet with Blinken and US national security adviser Jake Sullivan over a range of issues, including the Israel-Hamas conflict, the Ukraine crisis and the escalated provocations from the Philippines over the South China Sea, the AP reported, citing senior administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The visit comes as China and the US are seeing more frequent engagements at different levels. The China-US economic working group held its first meeting via video link on Tuesday as agreed on by Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in July.

The US Department of Defense will send a delegation to the 10th Beijing Xiangshan Forum, a high-level security conference that is set to kick off on Sunday, according to organizers.

Meanwhile, California Governor Gavin Newsom is taking a week-long trip to China, focusing on issues such as climate change and economic cooperation. The visit comes on the heels of US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who visited Shanghai and Beijing earlier in October.

The momentum of high-level engagement between the two countries has continued following visits to China since June by a number of Biden administration officials including Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

Although the US is signaling its expectations for a higher level of US-China meetings through the frequent interactions, the direction of its China policy has not changed with its characteristics of duplicity, some experts said.

While emphasizing the importance of dialogue, Washington has continued its strategy of containment against China with not so many significant results so far through those interactions, they noted.

Issues of concern

Wang's visit is a continuation of high-level exchanges between China and the US, and his main task is to liaise with the US side regarding the arrangements for the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting and the meeting between the heads of state of China and the US,Wu Xinbo, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

During his visit to the US, Wang will have in-depth exchanges of views with senior US officials on China-US relations and international and regional issues of common concern, engage in friendly exchanges with people from various sectors in the US, and clarify China's principled position and legitimate concerns regarding China-US relations, Mao said.

We hope that the US, together with China, will put into practice the important consensus reached by the leaders of both countries, strengthen communication and dialogue, expand practical cooperation, properly manage differences, and jointly push China-US relations back onto a track of healthy and stable development, the spokesperson noted.

There are many topics to be discussed between China and the US, including the Ukraine crisis and Israel-Palestine conflict, Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

China is also focused on the US' artificial limits on high-tech and its moves to politicize economic and trade relations, in addition to the Taiwan question and the South China Sea issue, Li said.

The current interactions between China and the US are still in a phase of increasing contact, enhancing understanding and improving the atmosphere, but no significant results have been produced yet, some experts said.

China has made clear requests, including scrapping additional tariffs imposed on Chinese products, removing sanctions on Chinese companies, lifting tech restrictions and adhering to the one-China principle on the Taiwan question, Wu said, noting that China will focus on talking about the severe challenges the US has brought to China in diplomacy, security and the economy.

On Sunday, Philippine vessels again trespassed into waters off Ren'ai Jiao to transport illegal building materials to reinforce an illegally grounded warship on the reef, making dangerous approaches to Chinese vessels and leading to bumps as the China Coast Guard intercepted them.

This was a bad timing for the Philippines to provoke troubles on the South China Sea issue, which seems misaligned with the US' current intentions of engaging with China, Li said, noting that the US' needs from China appear to far outweigh China's needs from the US.

The US would not be so foolish as to take risks for the Philippines at a time when it seeks China's cooperation on more pressing global issues, he said.

To show sincerity

Some Chinese experts believe that Wang's visit to the US is crucial and is expected to foster more positive high-level exchanges. It may pave the way for sustained and even higher-level interactions in the future.

The high-level interactions between China and the US have resumed at a faster pace since May, which is evidently helpful in stabilizing bilateral relations and preventing them from further deteriorating, Diao Daming, an associate professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

However, we must recognize that the US' stance toward China has not seen a significant directional change, as it continues to emphasize competition with China, Diao said, noting that while such dialogues and cooperation align with American interests, the emphasis on major power competition remains.

US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently referred to China, Russia and Iran as the new axis of evil that the US must confront in an interview with the US media on Sunday.

The Biden administration has continued to tighten the tech curbs against China, for instance, it is reducing the types of semiconductors that American companies will be able to sell to China, citing the desire to close loopholes in existing regulations announced last year, CNN reported on October 18.

Despite the positive signs emerging due to the more frequent interactions between the two countries, whether those issues of concern for Beijing can be solved will be important barometers to evaluate Washington's sincerity, Li said.

2005- ©Center for American Studies,Fudan University.