BEIJING In a relationship as strained as the Americas and China, a simple agreement that the talks were productive was a sign of progress.
Nine months after the start of Joe Biden’s presidency, the two sides finally appear to be trying to ease tensions dating back to the Trump administration, although complaints from the United States about China’s policies on trade, Taiwan and d other questions are little attenuated.
A closed-door meeting in Zurich on Wednesday between China’s senior foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan was not accompanied by the public acrimony presentations at previous meetings.
After the six-hour talks, the United States revealed agreement in principle for a virtual summit between Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping by the end of the year. The two have spoken by phone twice since Biden became president in January, but have not held a formal meeting.
Major differences divide what are in many ways the two most powerful nations in the world as they scramble for what each sees as its rightful place in the world order. Some differences over regional security, trade and technology may be irreconcilable, but successful talks could manage them and prevent any spillover that would hamper cooperation in other areas such as climate change.
I don’t think that marks the turnaround and that we’re kind of having a golden age, but maybe we’ve found the ground, or a ground, that relationships won’t sink deeper into, has said Drew Thompson, a former US defense official who has managed from military to military. military relations with China, Taiwan and Mongolia.
Thompson, a visiting scholar at the National University of Singapore, said the Zurich meeting went off spectacularly compared to a March meeting in Alaska that Yang and Sullivan attended and other U.S. meetings. Chinese over the past three years.
Zhao Kejin, professor of international relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing, described the current leadership as an attempt to ease tensions and said a Xi-Biden meeting could crown those efforts.
Compared to the strained relationship under the Trump administration, the current relationship leans toward mitigation, he said. As to how far it will travel, we’ll wait and see.
A thorn in the relationship was pulled two weeks ago when U.S. prosecutors made a deal with a Chinese telecommunications executive who ended a protracted extradition process in Canada and allowed him to return to China.
Shortly after, two Canadians detained by China for more than two years were freed and two Americans who had been barred from leaving China. have been authorized to return to the United States.
And earlier this week, Chinese state media highlighted remarks by Biden’s top trade official, Katherine Tai, that she was planning frank conversations with her Chinese counterparts about resolving a tariff war. The US administration, however, has not said whether it will accede to Chinese demands to cut tariffs, which were seen under former President Donald Trump.
There are few signs of an easing of regional security, where China’s territorial and strategic ambitions in the Western Pacific collide with the retreat of the US military and its allies.
China flew a record number of military aircraft in southern Taiwan over a four-day period last week, which the United States called risky and unsettling. The flights took place as the United States and five other countries conducted joint naval maneuvers with three aircraft carriers northeast of Taiwan. China calls such exercises provocation.
Biden is also coming under pressure from human rights activists and Republicans to maintain a firm line on China even as his administration seeks to cooperate on climate change and get North Korea to end its agenda of ‘nuclear weapons.
Florida Republican and frequent critic Marco Rubio tweeted Wednesday that Biden is dangerously delusional if he thinks he can get a climate deal by downplaying big power competition with China.
Peking residents were cautious about the future of the relationship, but some said it was better for the two sides to talk to each other rather than not. They blamed a hostile US stance for the state of relations, echoing the Chinese government’s stance.
I don’t have a good impression of America, ”said He Taiqin. “I think the country is authoritarian and aggressive.
Associated Press video producer Olivia Zhang contributed to this report.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
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