Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks at a press conference after restoring diplomatic relations with Kiribati on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, United States, on September 27, 2019.
Mark Kauzlarich | Reuters
China's two leading foreign ministers held a conciliatory tone this week in public statements about US relations amid increasing tensions between the world's two largest economies.
"China's US policy remains unchanged. We remain ready to develop China-US relations with goodwill and sincerity," said State Councilor and Secretary of State Wang Yi on Thursday. This is the result of an official English translation of his comments published on the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
"Some friends in the United States may have become suspicious or even suspicious of a growing China," said Wang. "I would like to reiterate here that China never intends to challenge or replace the United States, or to have a full confrontation with the United States. What is most important to us is to improve the livelihood of our people."
Wang spoke on video in a China-USA on Thursday. Think Tank event organized by the China Public Diplomacy Association, Beijing University and Renmin University of China, according to the State Department.
President Xi Jinping has repeatedly stressed that we have a thousand reasons to make China-US relations a success, and none that could ruin them.
State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China
A day earlier, Vice Secretary of State Le Yucheng said China remains optimistic and ready to work with the United States. This is the result of an official English version of his comments on the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. The website says Le participated in a video conference on the United States-China relations co-hosted by the Chinese People's Institute for Foreign Affairs and the Asia Society, founded by John D. Rockefeller 3.
The comments also stressed the need to respect China's decisions. The comments come from the fact that some representatives of the Chinese foreign ministry in countries from France to Sri Lanka have taken a much more aggressive turn, both personally and on Twitter, ironically a social media platform that is banned in mainland China. Some analysts have called the "wolf warrior diplomacy" approach that reflects nationalist Chinese action films with a similar name.
"Neither China nor the United States can shape the other in their own way, and the relationship between China and the United States should not be determined by ideologies," said Le.
"I also find it difficult to understand: Why does the United States always try to change the other country in state-to-state relations? Why does it try to impose its own ideology on others? What good is it to keep a country from pursuing something? ? " There are significant differences between China and the United States in their social systems, "Le said, criticizing recent efforts by some in America to" pull China into US election policies. "
The US presidential election is scheduled for November. Over the past four years, a number of problems have shaken relations between the two countries, from trade to Beijing's increasing control over Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous region that enjoys far more democratic freedoms than the mainland.
Great challenge for US-China relations
Wang said on Thursday that the China-US. Relationship "faces the greatest challenge since diplomatic relations were established."
He criticized current US policy toward China as reaching a "point of paranoia" that could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. "It seems like every Chinese investment is politically motivated, every Chinese student is a spy, and every collaborative initiative is a hidden agenda program," said Wang.
The United States established formal diplomatic relations with China in 1979 and eventually paved the way for China's accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001. The Asian country became the second largest economy in the world in 2010.
Tensions between the United States and China escalated about two years ago when the government of U.S. President Donald Trump applied tariffs on Chinese exports worth billions of dollars. Although many disagree with the effectiveness of the strategy, it is seen as a way to address longstanding complaints about unfair Chinese business practices, in part due to the state's dominance in its economy.
The dispute has since spread to technology and finance, increasing concerns about "decoupling" or stricter separation rather than integration between the two major world economies. In the meantime, Chinese President Xi Jinping has pushed for a more nationalist agenda and is trying to strengthen control over the state.
Call for collaboration at Covid-19
This week, both Wang and Le called for more cooperation, rather than politicization, to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Officially called Covid-19, the disease first appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of last year. The virus has since infected over 12 million people worldwide and killed over 548,000 people. The United States is responsible for about a quarter of the deaths and the country most affected by the pandemic so far.
Trump has blamed China for the virus and criticized the country's influence on the World Health Organization, while Beijing has pushed back the effects of the disease from its country. This week, the Trump administration also began withdrawing from WHO for a year.
Economic reality could prove to be more pressing for the world's two largest economies in the short term. As governments around the world try to limit the spread of the virus by restricting social activities, many expect global growth to slow this year. China has been trying to increase foreign investment in its country, while companies, including companies from the United States, have increasingly tried to enter the massive Chinese market.
"President Xi Jinping has repeatedly stressed that we have a thousand reasons to make China-US relations a success, and none that could ruin them," said Wang.
"Some say China-US relations cannot go back in time," he added. "But that shouldn't mean ignoring the story as a whole and starting from scratch, let alone unpractical decoupling. It should mean building on past achievements and keeping up with the times."
Clarification: This story updated the following references to Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Wang.