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China's foreign minister Qin Gang meets US envoy and urges Washington to reflect

Qin told the US ambassador that a ‘top priority’ was to stabilise relations, ‘avoid a downward spiral, and prevent accidents between China and the US’

David Pierson New York Published 09.05.23, 06:42 AM
Qin Gang.

Qin Gang. File Photo

China’s foreign minister, Qin Gang, met the American ambassador to China in Beijing on Monday in a possible hint at a thaw in relations between the two powers after months of growing tension.

Qin told the ambassador, Nicholas Burns, that a “top priority” was to stabilise relations, “avoid a downward spiral, and prevent accidents between China and the US”, according to China’s official readout of the meeting.


The meeting marked one of the highest-level engagements between American and Chinese officials since relations soured in February following the appearance, and subsequent downing, of a high-altitude Chinese balloon over the continental US.

Relations deteriorated further after secretary of state Antony J. Blinken warned in February that China might be preparing to give weapons and ammunition to Russia.

In Qin’s meeting with Burns, the Chinese official accused Washington of derailing progress in the relationship following the meeting of President Biden and China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, in November in Bali, Indonesia. Qin blamed “a series of erroneous words and deeds” by the US for undermining “the hard-won positive momentum of Sino-US relations”, according to the Chinese readout.

Qin said he hoped the Biden administration could “reflect deeply” and push the relationship “back on track.” To do that, Washington needed to respect “China’s bottom line” on issues such as Taiwan, the self-governing island claimed by Beijing. Qin said the US was “supporting and condoning ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces”.

China reacted angrily to a visit last month by President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan to the US. Tsai met Kevin McCarthy, the speaker of the House of Representatives, in what was the highest-level in-person gathering for a leader of Taiwan in the US since Beijing established relations with Washington in 1979.

In a post on Twitter, Burns said he and Qin “discussed challenges in the US-China relationship and the necessity of stabilising ties and expanding high-level communication”.

New York Times News Service

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