China urges US to stop interference, outlines plan to reset ties

Wang Yi calls on Washington to stop meddling in its internal affairs, lift restrictions on trade and people-to-people contacts.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi delivers his opening remarks at the Lanting Forum on bringing China-US relations back to the right track, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office in Beijing on Monday, February 22, 2021 [Andy Wong/ AP]

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has outlined Beijing’s vision for improving ties with the United States, urging Washington as a first step to stop meddling in its internal affairs, including the sensitive issues of Tibet, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan.

Speaking at a foreign ministry-sponsored forum on “Bringing China-US relations back to the right track”, Wang said on Monday Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with the administration of US President Joe Biden, after years in which relations between the two countries “ran into the biggest difficulties since the establishment of diplomatic ties”.

He also called on Washington to lift “unreasonable tariffs” on Chinese goods and remove restrictions on people-to-people contacts, including those on Chinese media outlets as well as educational and cultural groups.

The minister’s comments came as China presses the Biden administration to drop many of the confrontational measures adopted by his predecessor, Donald Trump.

These include pressure over trade and technology grievances that had prompted Trump to hike tariffs on Chinese imports in 2017 and impose bans or other restrictions on Chinese technology companies and academic exchanges.

Trump also upgraded military and diplomatic ties with Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy claimed by China as its own territory, while sanctioning Chinese officials blamed for abuses against Muslim minorities in Xinjiang and a crackdown on freedoms in Hong Kong.

While Biden has pledged re-engagement and a more civil tone in US diplomacy, it is unclear whether he will make any fundamental changes in Washington’s policies towards Beijing.

Wang said China had “no intention to challenge or replace the United States” and was ready to peacefully coexist and seek common development.

Wang also called on Washington to “stop undermining China’s sovereignty and security on internal affairs concerning Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet”.

The minister said the US should reactivate all levels of dialogue, which he said Washington had effectively halted under the Trump administration and noted that a recent call between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping was a positive step.

Repairing the damaged bilateral relationship would allow the two sides to work together on tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the global economic recovery, he added.

On trade, Wang said China would defend the rights of US companies while hoping the US would “adjust its policies as soon as possible, among others, remove unreasonable tariffs on Chinese goods, lift its unilateral sanctions on Chinese companies and research and educational institutes and abandon irrational suppression of China’s technological progress”.

The US should also lift restrictions on media, educational and people-to-people exchanges to reverse sharp declines in numbers of Chinese studying in the US and visits by Chinese for tourism or business, Wang said.

“I hope that the two sides will work together to steer the giant ship of China-US relations back to the course of sound development towards a bright future will boundless prospects,” Wang said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies