Senior Chinese Official to Biden Administration: Rock-Bottom Relations Are Trump’s Fault

By Patrick Goodenough | February 2, 2021 | 3:38am EST
Yang Jiechi (then Chinese foreign minister) speaks with then-Vice President Joe Biden at a luncheon in Los Angeles in 2012. (Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
Yang Jiechi (then Chinese foreign minister) speaks with then-Vice President Joe Biden at a luncheon in Los Angeles in 2012. (Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

( – A senior Chinese Communist Party (CCP) official on Monday night called for an improved relationship with the U.S. after what he called the “misguided policies” of the Trump administration, offering areas of “win-win cooperation” but also warning that China’s “core interests” – such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang – impact the sentiments of 1.4 billion Chinese and “constitute a red line that must not be crossed.”

Yang Jiechi’s 30-minute video presentation to the National Committee on United States-China Relations was the first substantive public reaching out to the Biden administration by the CCP, whose policies across a range of issues prompted strong punitive actions by the Trump administration, particularly in its final months.

“For the past few years, the Trump administration adopted misguided policies against China, plunging the relationship into its most difficult period since the establishment of diplomatic ties,” said Yang, a member of the CCP Politburo and director of the party’s Central Commission for Foreign Affairs.

“Some in the United States, sticking to Cold War thinking, perceived China as a threat,” he said.

“Their rhetoric and actions have interfered in China’s internal affairs, undermined China’s interests, and disrupted exchanges and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides.”

Yang placed the blame for the chilly ties exclusively on the side of the previous administration and antagonistic politicians in Washington, characterizing China and the CCP as the victim of unwarranted hostility.

“China never meddles in the internal affairs of the United States, including its elections,” he declared. “China never exports its development model or seeks ideological confrontation. China has no intention to challenge or replace the U.S. position in the world, or to carve out a sphere of influence.”

(The U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center reported last August that Beijing wanted President Trump to lose the election, and was “expanding its influence efforts ahead of November 2020 to shape the policy environment in the United States.”)

“Likewise,” continued Yang, China expects the U.S. to honor its commitments regarding the “one-China” principle and to “respect China’s positions and concerns on the Taiwan question.”

“The United States should stop interference in the affairs of Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang, which all matter to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and stop attempts to hold back China’s development by meddling in China's internal affairs,” he continued.

“History and reality have shown time and again that these issues concern China’s core interests, national dignity, as well as the sentiments of its 1.4 billion people. They constitute a red line that must not be crossed. Any trespassing would end up undermining China-U.S. relations and the United States’ own interests.”

Yang, who served as Beijing’s ambassador in Washington from 2001-2005 and as foreign minister from 2007-2013, said nothing about Beijing’s policies that attracted the strong condemnation of the U.S. and others in recent years – its curbs of democratic freedoms in Hong Kong and security policies in Xinjiang which the departing Trump administration determined constituted genocide against minority Muslim Uyghurs.

Saying that bilateral relations “now stand at a key moment,” he held out an offer of cooperation with the Biden administration in areas of common interest, including combating climate change and responding to the coronavirus pandemic – although on the latter he also said “those few U.S. politicians should immediately stop using the pandemic to stigmatize China.”

‘Remove the stumbling blocks’

Beijing also expects Biden to take a number of steps to reverse policies of his predecessor targeting CCP activities in the U.S.

“I hope that the new administration will remove the stumbling blocks to people-to-people exchanges, like harassing Chinese students, restricting Chinese media outlets, shutting down Confucius Institutes and suppressing Chinese companies,’ he said, calling such policies “not only wrong but also unpopular.”

The Trump administration last year designated nine Chinese media organizations as “foreign missions,” determining that they are “either substantially owned or effectively controlled by a foreign government,” and on that basis set limits on the number of Chinese nationals allowed to be employed at the outlets’ U.S. offices.

It also urged U.S. campuses to close down Confucius Institutes, accusing the purportedly cultural entities of serving as propaganda tools for Beijing, and shut down the Chinese consulate in Houston, which then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called a “hub of spying and intellectual property theft.”

And the Trump administration urged partners around the world to block the Chinese tech giant Huawei, which it accused of spying and property theft, from their 5G networks. (In one speech last summer, then-FBI Director Christopher Wray referred to Chinese IP “theft on a scale so massive that it represents one of the largest transfers of wealth in human history.”)

The CCP’s Global Times said on Monday that Trump, Pompeo and other U.S. politicians had “tried everything to hit China, and Biden and his cabinet members should be aware that this kind of strategy is useless and harmful to the U.S.”

It said that in the view of Chinese analysts, “China is actively sending friendly messages to urge the new government to use the window of power transition to at least pull bilateral ties from the toxic atmosphere a little bit.”


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