US officials have accused China of trying to avert blame for its actions after a top Chinese diplomat said the two countries could work together on various issues if they were able to repair damaged bilateral relations.
- Wang Yi called on the US and China to reopen talks, but only if Washington stopped “smearing” the Communist Party
- In response, the US State Dept accused China of trying to “avert blame” for human rights abuses
- A recent call between Xi Jinping and Joe Biden has been seen as a positive step
Wang Yi, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue after ties sank to their lowest level in decades under former US president Donald Trump.
But he urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs, and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.
He called on the US to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector.
In response, US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters: “His comments reflect a continued pattern of Beijing’s tendency to avert blame for its predatory economic practices, its lack of transparency, its failure to honour its international agreements, and its repression of universal human rights.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters separately that the United States viewed the relationship with China as one of “strong competition”.
Before Mr Wang spoke, at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then-US president Richard Nixon to visit China.
“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Mr Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.
Clashing on multiple fronts
Mr Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden as a positive step.
Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts, including on trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uyghur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region, and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.
The Biden administration has signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing.
Mr Biden has voiced concern about China’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices, and endorsed a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.
Confronting China is one of the few areas where Democrats and Republicans in the US Congress find common ground.
In a statement on China’s crackdown on the once semi-autonomous Hong Kong on Monday, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged the consideration of strict consequences for Beijing.
In Canada, MPs passed a non-binding motion saying China’s treatment of the Uyghurs constituted genocide, putting pressure on Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to follow suit.
Canada’s House of Commons voted 266-0 for the motion, brought by the opposition Conservative Party, with Mr Trudeau and his Cabinet abstaining from the vote.
The motion was also amended just before the vote to call on the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics from Beijing if the treatment of the Uyghurs continues.
Canada arrested Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on a US warrant in 2018. China detained two Canadians on spying charges, igniting lingering diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
Human rights groups have accused China of arbitrarily detaining Uyghur Muslims, carrying out forced sterilisations, and subjecting Uyghurs to forced labour practices.
Dozens of countries have called on China to halt its mass detention of ethnic Uyghurs at the UN Human Rights Council, while UN experts have said at least 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are being held in detention centres in the region.