Tianjin Summit: Beijing draws its own 'red lines' with Washington

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met with top Chinese diplomats. The talks were described as "frank and open". The Chinese want an end to US interference in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan and the South China Sea, and to attacks regarding the origin of the Covid virus.


Tianjin (AsiaNews) - For the first time in the history of their diplomatic relations, China has presented the US with a list of "red lines" that Washington needs to respect, and another with corrective measures to be taken, in order to improve bilateral relations.

According to the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry, Vice Minister Xie Feng delivered them today to his US counterpart Wendy Sherman, who has been on a visit to the Asian country since yesterday.

The US envoy also met with Foreign Minister Wang Yi with the US State Department describing the meeting between the two as "frank and open". In other words: the two sides had a very heated confrontation.

This morning Xie declared that the relationship between Beijing and Washington is at a "dead end" and risks "serious consequences". The Chinese representative has accused the U.S. of demonizing China and conducting a "coercive" diplomacy, unlike his country which he claims has no expansionist aims.

Several analysts point out that nations such as Australia, India and Vietnam, not to mention Taiwan, could challenge this statement, accusing the Chinese of pursuing "coercive" commercial and territorial policies.

Beijing has set its own stakes expressing dissatisfaction with US pressure on dossiers such as Covid-19 and its origins, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan and the South China Sea. The Asian giant's authorities also accuse the US of treating Chinese citizens living in the US unfairly, mistreating its diplomats and fomenting anti-Chinese and anti-Asian sentiments.

The list of corrections requested by Beijing includes the cancellation of sanctions on Chinese personalities and entities; the removal of visa restrictions on members of the Chinese Communist Party, their families and students; the elimination of restrictions on Confucius Institutes and Chinese companies; the withdrawal of decisions according to which Chinese media in the US are considered "foreign agents"; the freezing of the extradition request from Canada for Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's financial director.

In a separate statement, however, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked the U.S. to work to prevent terrorist groups from taking over in Afghanistan. After 20 years of military presence to eliminate al-Qaeda, Washington is completing the withdrawal of its troops from Afghan soil. The move scares China, which is worried that the neighbouring country will become a base from which Islamist militias can launch attacks in Xinjiang.

There was a harsh exchange of words between the two delegations during the first high-level US-China following Biden’s inauguration, in March in Alaska. Envoys from Beijing and Washington exchanged mutual accusations of violating protocol. U.S. representatives said China was a threat to global stability. The Chinese responded that the U.S. incites other nations to attack their country.

Sherman is the highest-ranking U.S. official to have met with Chinese leaders since the Anchorage meeting. In recent days, the State Department's number two has made visits to Mongolia, Japan and South Korea. The Biden administration's goal is to strengthen cooperation with allies and regional partners, which has weakened during the Trump presidency, to counter China's advance. The former president had inaugurated a more confrontational policy with Beijing, confirmed in essence by the current tenant of the White House.

 

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