Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met with China’s top diplomats on Monday in the Chinese city of Tianjin and held what the State Department called a “frank and open discussion.”
The meeting came amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing and marked the first high-level meeting since Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Alaska in March. Sherman met with Wang and Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng.
The State Department said Sherman “raised concerns” with her Chinese counterparts over Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet, Taiwan, the South and East China Seas, and more areas. The Biden administration has taken a hawkish approach to China on these issues and slapped Hong Kong-related sanctions on Chinese officials ahead of the talks.
China is strongly opposed to US interference in its affairs and made that clear during Monday’s meeting. Sherman first met with Xie, who said US-China relations reached a “stalemate” and face “serious consequences” due to Washington’s aggressive approach. “The foundational reason is that some people in the US are treating China as an ‘imagined enemy,'” Xie said.
Xie handed Sherman a list of remedial measures China wants the US to take to repair relations. The requests include dropping the extradition request for Huawei financial chief Meng Wanzhou, lifting sanctions on Chinese officials, easing Visa restrictions for Chinese students and Communist Party members.
Later in the day, Wang expressed to Sherman China’s opposition to US interference. According to Chinese media reports, Wang said Taiwan was the “most important” issue when it comes to sovereign affairs. “We advise the US that it must abide by its promises on the Taiwan issue and must be prudent in its conduct,” he said.
The Biden administration has been taking steps to boost ties with Taiwan, angering China, and increasing tensions in the region. The US military has also stepped up its presence near Taiwan and in the South China Sea, with US warships regularly operating in the disputed waters.
While the talks seemed like they were tense, both sides appeared to be open to future high-level meetings. Xie made it clear that if Washington wants more engagement, it needs to adopt less aggressive policies towards Beijing. “The US … cannot expect cooperation on one hand and to hurt China’s interests on the other. This won’t work,” he said.