March 16, 2022
BEIJING – Monday’s meeting in Rome between senior Chinese and US officials was constructive despite their tense ties, and it helped overcome doubts and avoid miscalculations and was important in order to maintain global cooperation in tackling hot spot issues, observers said.
Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, met on Monday in the Italian capital with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
Analysts noted that the meeting took place as bilateral ties have been further strained recently over topics such as the recently concluded Olympic Winter Games and the Taiwan question.
Diao Daming, an associate professor of US studies at Renmin University of China in Beijing, said that in contrast to previous similar dialogues, a significant point from Monday’s meeting was that both sides agreed to “accumulate enabling conditions” for their relations to return to the right track of sound and steady development.
“Beijing has realized that it may be a long-term process to achieve this, given Washington’s major role in introducing obstacles to the ties. Still, it is willing to embark on discussions to realize this goal,” Diao said.
In a teleconference on Monday, an unnamed senior official with the Biden administration described the meeting as “an intense seven-hour session”, according to a transcript of the call that was published on the White House website.
In an official statement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that the two sides had “candid, in-depth and constructive talks on China-US relations and international and regional issues of mutual interest and concern”.
The two sides agreed to abide by the consensus reached by President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden at their virtual meeting in November, and to enhance mutual understanding, manage differences, expand common ground and strengthen cooperation.
The meeting strengthens the possibility of future bilateral interaction at various and higher levels, and it helps to reduce the possibility of further deterioration in the ties, Diao said.
During the talks, Yang mentioned President Biden’s key pledges to President Xi, such as not seeking a new Cold War and not supporting “Taiwan independence”.
China firmly opposes the recent erroneous words and deeds by the US side on Taiwan-related issues, and it urges the US to fully recognize the highly sensitive nature of the Taiwan question, Yang said.
“Washington’s recent incremental approach to drift away from the one-China principle and interfere in China’s domestic affairs is like salami tactics, and the Rome meeting offered a stern and fresh warning in terms of guarding national interests,” said Su Xiaohui, deputy director of the China Institute of International Studies’ Department of American Studies.
The Ukraine situation was highlighted in both sides’ news releases about Monday’s meeting.
In the lead-up to the talks, some US and British media quoted unnamed US officials’ claims that Russia asked Beijing to provide military assistance such as weapons and drones.
During the talks, Yang told US officials that China firmly opposes any words and deeds that spread disinformation and distort and smear China’s position.
He underscored the necessity to address the problem at its root, respond to “the legitimate concerns of all parties” and introduce a balanced, effective as well as sustainable European security architecture.
Su, the CIIS scholar, said the US’ recent attacks on China over the Ukraine situation “are not helpful in resolving the crisis but will diminish China-US ties”, and are unlikely to have a negative impact on how China is viewed in Europe and in Russia.
“China will not fall prey to such information war tactics,” she added.
Wu Xinbo, dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University, said the US “has failed in its goal of pressuring China and forcing it to change its position over the Ukraine situation”.
Monday’s meeting was the third between Yang and Sullivan after co-chairing a high-level dialogue in Anchorage, Alaska, in March last year and meeting in October in the Swiss city of Zurich.
Ruan Zongze, executive vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said “there should be a timetable and a planner” for the working teams from both sides to offer constructive solutions and navigate the relationship.
“Both sides bear in mind that their ties also matter to global peace and development, and a stable China-US relationship is key to the world’s tranquility,” Ruan said.