By Jennifer Hansler and Tara John, CNN
(CNN) — China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao will meet both US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai next week, the Chinese Embassy said Thursday, as the United States and China try to recalibrate strained relations.
The announcement follows an earlier meeting in Vienna between top Chinese official Wang Yi and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, which was held in an attempt to reestablish normal communications.
Tensions inflamed between both countries when a Chinese government spy balloon transited the US, prompting Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone a planned trip to Beijing – a visit seen as an important step in repairing fraught diplomatic ties that are at their worst in decades.
During a virtual press briefing Thursday, Chinese embassy officials stressed their desire to keep channels of communication open, and emphasized recent bilateral engagements such as the Sullivan-Wang meeting – an indication that efforts by both Washington and Beijing to reset relations may be yielding progress.
The meeting with Raimondo in Washington, DC, had not been previously announced, but the meeting with Tai in Detroit was expected as part of the APEC meetings.
Wang Hongxia from the embassy’s Economic & Commercial Affairs Section said the meetings with Tai and Raimondo “provides an opportunity for the two countries to engage in dialogue through bilateral, regional and multilateral channels to address their respective concerns in the economic and trade areas.”
“China is open to communication at all levels and cooperation across the fields with the United States, but only on the basis of mutual respect,” Chinese Embassy spokesperson Liu Pengyu said.
“China welcomes senior US officials to visit China, but the point is that the US will work with China to address the issues in the relationship and create favorable conditions for the future interactions between the two presidents,” he said.
CNN reported Wednesday that the Biden administration is now looking at arranging a series of possible visits to Beijing by top administration officials in the coming months as part of an effort to reengage with China on substantive issues.
Referring to the Sullivan-Wang meeting, Liu said the Chinese side made clear that the relationship must be one of “mutual respect” and “cannot be simply defined by competition.”
“The US side cannot ask for communication and dialogue with China while undercutting China’s interests,” he said. “The pressing task now is to stabilize the bilateral relationship avoid a spiral decline and prevent unexpected incidents between the two sides,” he continued.
“We hope the US side will return to a rational and pragmatic China policy for the two countries to better develop themselves and prosper together,” Liu said, adding that China urges the US to “lift unreasonable restrictions that hinder people to people and cultural exchanges.”
Beijing cut off talks with Washington on major issues, from climate change to military relations, in August last year in response to then US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s high-profile visit to Taipei.
The two sides resumed climate talks following Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s meeting with US President Joe Biden meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia last November.
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