Monday 26 July 2021 5:26 pm

US and China hold 'frank and open' talks but differences yet to be resolved

The high-level face-to-face meeting between China and the US highlighted the difference and no specific outcomes were agreed.

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met today with her counterpart, China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in the Chinese city of Tianjin.

The talks came after the worsening relations between Beijing and Washington in months since an initial diplomatic meeting in March in Anchorage, the first under the Biden administration.

The US Department of State described Monday’s meeting as “frank and open” after talks lasted about four hours.

Sherman touched on China’s action on issues ranging from Hong Kong and Xinjiang to Tibet and cyberattacks, said a senior US official.

The second-ranked US diplomat also raised concerns over China’s unwillingness to cooperate with the World Health Organization on a second phase investigation of the origins of COVID-19 and foreign media access in China.

No specifics were agreed, and the prospect of a meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping was not discussed, the US official said.

Beijing set out a confrontational tone earlier by blaming Washington for creating a “stalemate” in bilateral ties.

“U.S.-China relations are at a standstill and face serious difficulties,” China’s Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng said during the meeting with Sherman, the second-ranked US diplomat.

“The US wants to reignite the sense of national purpose by establishing China as an ‘imaginary enemy’.”

“The hope may be that by demonizing China, the US could somehow shift domestic public discontent over political, economic and social issues and blame China for its own structural problems,” Xie was quoted by state-owned media Xinhua Agency.

Sherman’s China visit was added late to an Asian itinerary after visiting Japan, South Korea and Mongolia amid wrangling over protocol between the world’s two largest economies.

Senior US officials had earlier outlined Sherman would tell China while Washington welcomed competition with Beijing but needed to be on a level playing field to avoid conflict.

Wang warned China would never accept the US taking a superior position to other nations.

On Friday, Beijing announced sanctions against former US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and other individuals and groups in response to the recent US sanctions on Chinese officials over the crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong.