Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on the US on Monday to lift restrictions on trade and people-to-people contacts while ceasing what Beijing considers unwarranted interference in the areas of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet.
Wang's comments at a Foreign Ministry forum on US-China relations come as Beijing is pressing the administration of President Joe Biden to drop many of the confrontational measures adopted by his predecessor Donald Trump.
Among those are pressure over trade and technology grievances that prompted Trump to hike tariffs on Chinese imports in 2017 and impose bans or other restrictions on Chinese tech companies and academic exchanges.
Trump also upgraded military and diplomatic ties with Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy claimed by China as its own territory, while sanctioning Chinese officials blamed for abuses against Muslim minorities in Xinjiang and a crackdown on freedoms in Hong Kong.
“We know that the new U.S. administration is reviewing and assessing its foreign policy we hope that the U.S. policy makers will keep pace with the times, see clearly the trend of the world, abandon biases, give up unwarranted suspicions and move to bring the China policy back to reason to ensure a healthy steady development of China-U.S. relations," Wang told diplomats, scholars and journalists at the Lanting Forum.
While Biden has pledged reengagement and a more civil tone in U.S. diplomacy, its unclear whether he will make any fundamental changes in Washington's policies toward Beijing.
China faces more opposition than ever in Washington due to its trade record, territorial disputes with neighbours, and accusations of technology theft and spying. Taiwan enjoys strong bipartisan support, as do criticisms of China's human rights record, especially on Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet.
Wang said China had “no intention to challenge or replace the United States" and was ready to peacefully coexist and seek common development.
Wang urged the U.S. to “stop smearing" the reputation of China's ruling Communist Party and to “stop conniving at or even supporting the erroneous words and actions of separatist forces for Taiwan independence and stop undermining China's sovereignty and security on internal affairs concerning Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet."
Wang said the U.S. should reactivate all levels of dialogue which he said the U.S. had effectively halted under the Trump administration, and boost cooperation on major bilateral and international issues. The COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the global economic recovery are the three biggest issues on which the sides can cooperate, he said.
On trade, Wang said China would defend the rights of U.S. companies while hoping the U.S. would “adjust its policies as soon as possible, among others, remove unreasonable tariffs on Chinese goods, lift its unilateral sanctions on Chinese companies and research and educational institutes and abandon irrational suppression of China's technological progress."
The U.S. should also lift restrictions on media, educational and people-to-people exchanges to reverse sharp declines in numbers of Chinese studying in the U.S. and visits by Chinese for tourism or business, Wang said.
“I hope that the two sides will work together to steer the giant ship of China-U.S. relations back to the course of sound development toward a bright future will boundless prospects," Wang said.
As is usual in Chinese foreign policy, Wang put the onus for improving relations squarely on the shoulders of the U.S. and offered no direct proposals for major breakthroughs, even while encouraging increased dialogue.
While the tone taken toward the U.S. by high-ranking diplomats such as Wang, senior foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi and Xi himself appears more positive than under Trump, China's Foreign Ministry spokespeople have remained combative.
At a briefing on Friday, spokesperson Hua Chunying contrasted the freak winter weather striking Texas with the robust social and economic interactions seen in China over the just-passed Lunar New Year holiday, without offering any show of sympathy.
“All this has given us a deeper understanding of what human rights truly mean and how to better protect them. We are more convinced that we are on the right path and have every confidence in the future," Hua said.