The breakdown in US-China relations is due to some people in the United States treating China as a “imaginary enemy,” Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng was quoted as saying during a meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on Monday, according to a statement provided by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Sherman arrived in Tianjin on Sunday for meetings with Xie and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, as part of ongoing US efforts to “advance US interests and values” and “responsibly manage the relationship,” according to her office.
The Chinese ministry statement, released ahead of Sherman’s meeting with Wang, accused the United States of attempting to rekindle a “sense of national purpose” by orchestrating a “whole-of-government and whole-of-society” campaign to demonize and suppress China.
“The US seems to be demanding cooperation when it wants something from China; decoupling, cutting off supplies, blockading or sanctioning China when it believes it has advantage; and resorting to conflict and confrontation at all costs,” said Xie according to a statement.
Xie was also quoted as saying that the US was “in no position to lecture China on democracy and human rights,” citing the US’ treatment of Native Americans in the past and military actions.
The United States has yet to issue a statement regarding the meeting.
The talks take place more than three months after the two countries’ tense meeting in Alaska in March, during which diplomats from both sides publicly traded barbs.
Chinese diplomats accused the US delegation of being “condescending” in tone during the meeting, which was the first under US President Joe Biden’s administration, while a US official said Beijing’s representatives seemed “intent on grandstanding.”
The two countries have continued to clash on a variety of fronts in the months since Alaska, with the US government harshly criticizing China’s policies in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
According to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China announced new sanctions against seven US officials and entities, including former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in response to US sanctions against several Hong Kong government officials.
Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a longtime Chinese political analyst, told CNN that the US-China relationship is at a “all-time low.”
As a result, talks like the one between Sherman and Wang are aimed at preventing the adversarial relationship from deteriorating into a direct conflict, according to Lam. “Sherman said she wants to build guardrails and parameters. So that conflicts can be treated through negotiations and not through direct confrontation and conflict,” said Lam.
“If the negotiations go well, there might be a possibility of a face-to-face meeting between President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Italy in October,” said Lam.
“However, the Chinese have earlier rejected meetings between the US Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, and the senior official in the Chinese Central Military Commission. The Chinese have also been lukewarm about setting up a hotline. So whether that would be a top level summit between Biden and Xi remains very much in doubt,” added Lam.
Wang Yi told Hong Kong broadcaster Phoenix TV ahead of his meeting with Sherman on Monday that “no country is superior to others,” and China will not accept any country that assumes such a position.
“The US has always put pressure on others with its self-claimed strengths in a condescending manner, thinking that it is superior to others,” Wang said Saturday. “But I want to tell the US side that there is never a country that is superior to others, and there shouldn’t be one, and China will not accept any country boasting of its superiority.”
Last Wednesday, a US State Department spokesperson said Sherman would be traveling to China “from a position of strength,” prompting Wang’s response.
“If the United States has not learned how to get along with other countries on an equal footing by today, then it is our responsibility, together with the international community, to give the United States a good lesson in this regard,” Wang added.