WASHINGTON / BEIJING – US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will make it clear to China in upcoming talks that Washington welcomes competition with Beijing, but that there must be a level playing field and barriers to prevent it from spilled in a conflict, senior US officials said Saturday.
The officials, who reported ahead of Sherman’s Tianjin talks with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, said the world’s two largest economies needed responsible ways to manage competition.
“She is going to emphasize that we do not want this fierce and sustained competition to turn into a conflict,” said a senior US administration official ahead of what will be the first high-ranking face-to-face contact between Washington and Beijing in months. while the two sides evaluate whether they can anoint the festering ties.
“That is why the United States wants to ensure that there are security measures and parameters in place to responsibly manage the relationship,” he said. “She will make it clear that while we welcome tough and sustained competition with the People’s Republic of China, everyone must play by the same rules and on equal terms.”
Sherman will land in Tianjin, a city southeast of Beijing, on Sunday and will stay until Monday.
In the immediate aftermath of Sherman’s trip, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will travel to Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines next week, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit India, signs of US efforts. To step up engagement as China challenges Washington’s influence in Asia.
The talks between Sherman, the second State Department official, and Wang will continue to fight for several months since the first high-level diplomatic meeting of the countries under President Joe Biden’s administration in March.
Chinese officials publicly criticized the United States at that meeting in Alaska, accusing it of hegemonic policies, while American officials accused China of grandstanding.
The official briefing on Saturday said the Tianjin meeting would be a continuation of the Alaska talks and that “all dimensions of the relationship will be on the table.”
“We go to these meetings with our eyes wide open,” he said, adding: “We believe that it is important to maintain open lines of communication between high-level officials, a frank and open discussion, even perhaps especially, where we disagree is essential. to reduce the potential for misunderstandings between our countries. “
Since Alaska, the two countries have almost constantly exchanged diplomatic spikes. The latest exchanges came on Friday when Beijing sanctioned former US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and other individuals and groups in response to US sanctions over China’s crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong.
A second US administration official said those sanctions were an example of how China punishes those who speak out and said Washington would not be afraid to take further action against Beijing when its interests are threatened.
Bilateral ties have soured to such an extent that the prospect of significant results from the Tianjin talks seems almost unthinkable in foreign policy circles.
However, if the discussions go reasonably well, they could help set the stage for an eventual meeting between Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping later this year, possibly on the guidelines of the G20 summit in Italy in late October. (Reporting by Michael Martina and David Brunnstrom in Washington and Yew Lun Tian in Beijing; Edited by Mary Milliken and Matthew Lewis)