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China says it's imperative to stabilize U.S. relations

Beiing's new foreign minister made the comments in his first meeting with Nicholas Burns, the U.S. ambassador to China.
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/ Source: Reuters

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang said Monday it is imperative to stabilize Sino-U.S. relations after a series of “erroneous words and deeds” threw ties back into a deep freeze.

In a meeting with Nicholas Burns, the U.S. ambassador to China, Qin emphasized that the United States must improve the way it has handled the Taiwan issue and stop undermining the “one China” principle.

The relationship between the world’s two biggest economies sank to a low last year when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi paid an official visit to democratically governed Taiwan, angering China, which claims the island as its territory.

In response, Beijing severed formal communications channels with the United States including one between their militaries.

The tension between the two superpowers eased in November when U.S. and Chinese leaders Joe Biden and Xi Jinping met at a G20 summit in Indonesia and pledged more frequent dialogue.

“A series of erroneous words and deeds by the United States since then have undermined the hard-won positive momentum of Sino-U.S. relations,” Qin told Burns, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The agenda of dialogue and cooperation agreed by the two sides has been disrupted, and the relationship between the two countries has once again encountered cold ice.”

Tensions flared in February when a Chinese high-altitude balloon appeared in U.S. airspace and in response U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a visit to Beijing.

Last week, Blinken appeared to offer hope of a visit, telling the Washington Post that it was important to re-establish regular lines of communication at all levels.

Also last week, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said China had invited him to visit “in the near term” for talks on averting a global climate crisis, further raising hope of resetting one of the world’s most important state-to-state relationships.

“The top priority is to stabilize Sino-U.S. relations, avoid a downward spiral and prevent any accidents between China and the United States,” Qin said.

Taiwan remains the thorniest issue in Sino-U.S. ties.

Last month, China staged war games around Taiwan after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles.

Since 1979, the U.S.-Taiwan relationship has been governed by the Taiwan Relations Act, which gives a legal basis to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself but does not mandate that the United States come to Taiwan’s aid if attacked.

As a part of the 2023 budget, Congress has authorized up to $1 billion worth of weapons aid for Taiwan using a type of authority that expedites security assistance and has helped to deliver arms to Ukraine.