On Thursday, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met with Qin Gang, China’s new ambassador to the US. The two envoys reviewed issues raised in Sherman’s recent visit to Tianjin, China, the State Department said in a brief statement.
The State Department provided no further details on the meeting. The Chinese embassy said Qin expressed to Sherman that the US-China relationship is at a “new crossroads.”
The embassy said Qin will work as ambassador to “follow the spirit of the telephone conversation between President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden on the eve of Chinese New Year, enhance communication and dialogue with the US side, and work to promote a rational, stable, manageable and constructive China-US relationship.”
Sherman met with China’s foreign minister and vice foreign minister in Tianjin at the end of July. Like most meetings between US and Chinese officials these days, the talks were tense. Sherman “raised concerns” over issues such as Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet, Taiwan, the South, and East China Seas, the typical list of talking points recited by US officials when condemning Beijing.
For their part, the Chinese officials handed Sherman a list of steps Beijing wants Washington to take to improve relations. The requests include dropping the extradition request for Huawei financial chief Meng Wanzhou, lifting sanctions on Chinese officials, and easing visa restrictions for Chinese students and Communist Party members. With the Biden administration focused on confronting China, it’s unlikely that any of Beijing’s requests will be fulfilled.
While US and Chinese officials have been talking, the Biden administration has not been sending friendly signals to Beijing. For example, ahead of Sherman’s visit to Tianjin, the Biden administration slapped sanctions on Chinese officials over Hong Kong. Biden’s Pentagon has also identified China as its top “pacing threat” and is working to rally Asian countries against Beijing.