Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang met with US ambassador to China Nicholas Burns in Beijing on Monday

China says relations with US on ‘cold ice,’ but stabilizing ties a ‘top priority’

By Nectar Gan and Mengchen Zhang, CNN

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang met with US ambassador to China Nicholas Burns in Beijing on Monday

CNN  —  China’s foreign minister said Monday a “series of erroneous words and deeds” by the United States had placed relations between the two superpowers on “cold ice,” but stabilizing ties is a “top priority.”

Qin Gang made the comments during a meeting in Beijing with US ambassador Nicholas Burns, their first since a dispute over a Chinese balloon shattered efforts to mend ties earlier this year.

Qin said US actions and words had undermined “hard-won positive momentum” following Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s meeting with US President Joe Biden in Indonesia last year.

“The agenda of dialogue and cooperation agreed by the two sides has been disrupted, and the relationship between the two countries has once again hit the cold ice,” he said according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement.

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

Tensions between the world’s two biggest economies soared in February after a suspected Chinese spy balloon flew over the continental US and was subsequently shot down by the American military.

The incident prompted US 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. There has been no indication whether the trip will be rescheduled.

“The top priority now is to stabilize Sino-US relations, avoid a downward spiral and prevent any accidents between China and the US,” Qin told Burns, according to the Chinese readout. “This should be the most fundamental consensus between China and the US.”

Philippines joint military exercises in Fort Magsaysay on April 13, 2023 in Nueva Ecija, Philippines. More than 17,000 Philippine and US soldiers started their largest joint military exercise yet, known as ‘Balikatan’ or ‘shoulder-to-shoulder,’ which includes live-fire drills at sea, as the two nations strengthen defence ties amid shared concerns about China’s assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region. The joint military exercises took place as China completed three days of war games around Taiwan, coinciding with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to the United States.

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Qin urged the US to “reflect deeply” and “meet China halfway” to push bilateral relations out of their current predicament.

“(The US) can’t talk about communication on the one hand, but keep suppressing and containing China on the other hand,” he said, adding that Washington must respect China’s bottom lines and stop undermining its sovereignty, security and development interests – in particular on the issue of Taiwan, a self-governing democracy Beijing claims as its own.

Reiterating Beijing’s talking points, Qin urged the US to stop the hollowing out of the “one China” principle and end support for “Taiwan independent” forces.

Under Washington’s longstanding “one China” policy, the US acknowledges Beijing’s position that Taiwan is part of China, but has never officially recognized the Chinese Communist Party’s claim to the democratic island of more than 23 million. Under the Taiwan Relations Act, Washington is also bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself.

Under Xi, China has ramped up economic, diplomatic and military pressure on Taiwan in recent years, increasing fears he may one day make an attempt to follow through on his goal of “reunifying” the island with the mainland

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