China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang said on Monday it is imperative to stabilise Sino-US relations.
Qin made the remark in a meeting in Beijing with US Ambassador Nicholas Burns, warning that a series of “erroneous words and deeds” by American officials had left bilateral ties in a deep freeze.
He stressed in particular that the United States must correct its handling of the Taiwan issue and stop the hollowing out of the “one China” principle.
The relationship between the world’s two biggest economies sank to a low last year when then speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi paid an official visit to democratically governed Taiwan, angering China, which claims the island as its territory.
In response, Beijing severed formal communications channels with the United States including one between their militaries.
‘Dialogue and cooperation disrupted’
“The top priority is to stabilise Sino-US relations, avoid a downward spiral and prevent any accidents between China and the United States,” Qin told Burns, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.
The tension between the two superpowers had eased last November when US and Chinese leaders Joe Biden and Xi Jinping met at a G20 summit in Indonesia and pledged more frequent dialogue.
But tensions flared again in February when a Chinese high-altitude balloon appeared in US airspace and in response US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelled a visit to Beijing.
“A series of erroneous words and deeds by the United States since then have undermined the hard-won positive momentum of Sino-US relations,” Qin said.
“The agenda of dialogue and cooperation agreed by the two sides has been disrupted, and the relationship between the two countries has once again encountered cold ice.”
Burns, in a post on Twitter about his talks with Qin, also spoke of the need to bring stability to the relationship.
“We discussed challenges in the US-China relationship and the necessity of stabilising ties and expanding high-level communication,” Burns said.
Last week, Blinken appeared to offer hope of a visit, telling the Washington Post that it was important to re-establish regular lines of communication at all levels.
Climate envoy Kerry invited for talks
Also last week, US climate envoy John Kerry said China had invited him to visit “in the near-term” for talks on averting a global climate crisis, further raising hope of resetting one of the world’s most important state-to-state relationships.
Taiwan remains the thorniest issue in Sino-US ties.
Last month, China staged war games around Taiwan after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles.
Since 1979, the US-Taiwan relationship has been governed by the Taiwan Relations Act, which gives a legal basis to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, but does not mandate that the United States come to Taiwan’s aid if attacked.
As a part of the 2023 budget, US Congress has authorised up to $1 billion worth of weapons aid for Taiwan using a type of authority that expedites security assistance and has helped to deliver arms to Ukraine.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard