China’s foreign policy chief has urged politicians from both sides of the US partisan divide to get the relationship between the two countries back on track.
Yang Jiechi, a member of the Communist Party’s Politburo, told a virtual meeting with Democrats and Republicans that more dialogue was needed, according to state news agency Xinhua.
“We hope the US government can correct their wrong policies towards China, and work with China to take positive steps to implement the consensus reached by the presidents of the two nations and push China-US relations back on the right track,” he said.
“The dialogue between Chinese and American political parties is very beneficial to enhancing mutual understanding and deepening dialogue and cooperation. It is hoped that the two parties in the United States and people of insight from all walks of life will continue to play a positive role in the development of relations between the two countries.”
Attendees included Howard Dean, a former head of the Democratic National Committee, and Carla Hills, a former US trade representative and housing secretary.
The meeting is the latest step Beijing has taken to improve communications with Washington.
On Monday, Chinese ambassador to Washington Qin Gang held an online meeting with the US-China Business Council, calling on the US to create favourable conditions for implementing the phase one trade deal between the two sides.
The new exchanges followed last week’s 90-minute phone conversation between Presidents Xi Jinping and Joe Biden held at Washington’s instigation.
US officials said they hoped to prevent the escalating competition between the two nations from spiralling out of control while Xi warned that confrontation between the two countries would make the whole world suffer and said courage was needed to improve relations.
According to media reports, Biden proposed a first face-to-face summit with Xi in the call, but failed to secure an agreement. The Financial Times, citing people briefed on the call, reported that Xi did not take Biden up on the offer and wanted Washington to adopt a less strident tone towards Beijing.
Bloomberg reported that Xi declined to commit to one as he remained in China while the Covid-19 pandemic continues.
When asked on Tuesday by White House reporters whether he was disappointed that Xi did not want to meet him, Biden answered “not true”.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the FT’s report was not “an accurate portrayal of the call”.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday that the phone call laid the foundation for China-US relations, adding: “Both sides agreed to maintain regular contact through various means.”
Almost every aspect of the two countries’ relationship – from trade to the South China Sea – is a source of tension at present.
Beijing recently warned the US against allowing the name of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office to be changed to the Taiwan Representative Office because it regards the island as a breakaway Chinese province.
Senior Chinese diplomats told US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman during her visit to Tianjin in July that Washington should take concrete actions, for example removing visa restrictions, to improve ties with Beijing and avoid crossing red lines such as Taiwan.
Yang and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi doubled down on that message when meeting US climate change envoy John Kerry earlier this month, saying cooperation on climate change would suffer if the overall relationship did not improve.
Additional reporting by Catherine Wong