Beijing is talking with Washington whilst courting the EU against the US
Trade talks between the two superpowers resume. China sees progress but US is more cautious. Wang Yi asks Europe not to align itself with the Trump administration. Former Chinese ambassador to the United States says China is not a danger because Beijing does not lead a military alliance like the Soviet Union.
Beijing (AsiaNews) – After running high, tensions between China and the United States are giving way to fresh talks.
China’s Vice Premier and main trade negotiator Liu He spoke on the phone yesterday with his US counterpart to assess the state of "phase one" of the trade agreement signed by the two governments in January.
Liu described the conversation as "constructive". In diplomatic terms, this means that the two sides have not reached an agreement but have not yet walked away from the negotiating table.
The two countries are still seeking progress, Liu stressed, working on greater coordination between their "macroeconomic" policies.
By contrast, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer did not mention any coordination, noting instead that the two delegations discussed future steps needed to implement the trade agreement.
Under the deal, China pledged to buy more US products and services, up to US$ 200 billion by the end of 2021, in order to equalise the trade imbalance between the two countries.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, China has failed so far to deliver on its pledge. For this reason, the US is pressing for the deal to be fully implemented.
Washington has not let up accusing Beijing of expansionist aims in East and Southeast Asia; unfair business practices; industrial and technological theft; human rights violations, including in Hong Kong; and spreading the coronavirus.
During a meeting yesterday in China with his Hungarian counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi condemned the "unilateral" policies of the Trump administration, urging European countries not to align themselves with the US against his country.
Wang began today a week-long European tour, starting with Italy to be followed by Germany, France, the Netherlands and Norway. He said that "decoupling" China from the United States, as suggested by the Trump administration, is "unfeasible and unreasonable".
However, Wang’s plea risks falling on deaf ears. Hong Kong’s security law has drawn strong criticism from the European Union, and the campaign launched by US President Donald Trump to ban Chinese 5G technology is gaining ground in the Old Continent.
For Chinese leaders, Washington's aggressive stance is unjustified. Zhou Wenhong, former Chinese ambassador to the US, points out that China does not lead a military alliance against the US-led NATO, as was the case with the Soviet Union. In his view, it is misleading to speak of a new Cold War.
The former diplomat notes that China does not pose a direct military threat to the United States, which would do better to accept the "inevitable" peaceful rise of the Asian giant.
For the US however, the ongoing massive air and naval exercises involving the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops in the China seas, the Yellow Sea and the Gulf of Bohai tell a different story.