In the wake of the Trump administration, US-China relations are at their lowest point in decades. For weeks now, Chinese officials have been calling for better relations, and on Monday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi continued the call.
“We stand ready to have candid communication with the US side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems,” Wang said. He also called on the US to lift trade restrictions and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs. The US responded sharply to Wang’s remarks.
“I think his comments reflect the continued pattern of Beijing’s tendency to avert blame for its predatory economic practices, its lack of transparency, its failure to honor its international agreements, and its repression of universal human rights,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in response to Wang.
“You’ve heard us speak before about the way in which we will approach China, through the prism of competition from a position of strength,” Price added.
So far, President Biden’s China policy is looking a lot like his predecessor’s. US warships continue to frequently sail into the South China Sea, trade restrictions are still in place, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said tariffs on Chinese goods will remain, at least for now.
Biden’s Pentagon is currently reviewing the US military’s posture in Asia and its overall China policy. The review is being led by Ely Ratner, a China hawk who co-authored an article last September titled, “Trump Has Been Weak on China, and Americans Have Paid the Price.” Ratner was appointed to advise Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who Republican China hawks feared was too inexperienced on Asia.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference last week, President Biden said the US and its allies must prepare for “long-term strategic competition with China.” Working with regional allies to confront China seems to be the focus of Washington’s Asia strategy. Even NATO is looking to get in on the action in the Pacific.
Also speaking at the Munich Conference, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg echoed Biden and said the “rise of China” is a “defining issue” for the alliance. “This is why NATO should deepen our relationships with close partners, like Australia and Japan, and forge new ones around the world,” he said.