US accused of ‘demonising’ China as high-level talks begin in Tianjin

China has blamed the US for what it called a “stalemate” in bilateral relations and accused Washington of “demonising” Beijing as high-level face-to-face talks began in the Chinese city of Tianjin.

Vice foreign minister Xie Feng urged the US “to change its highly misguided mindset and dangerous policy,” the official Xinhua news agency reported.

“The hope may be that by demonising China, the US could somehow … blame China for its own structural problems,” China’s foreign ministry wrote in a readout of the talks between US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman and Xie.

The ministry described relations as at a “stalemate” and facing “serious difficulties.”

The China-US relationship is in a stalemate because some Americans portray China as an “imagined enemy,” Xinhua quoted Xie as telling Sherman.

America’s No. 2 diplomat is discussing the fraught relationship between the countries in separate meetings with Xie, who is in charge of US-China relations, and foreign minister Wang Yi at a closed-off resort hotel in the city of Tianjin.

Sherman is the highest-ranking US official to visit China since President Joe Biden took office six months ago. Relations between the countries deteriorated sharply under his predecessor, Donald Trump, and the two sides remain at odds over a host of issues including technology, cybersecurity, human rights and other issues.

In an interview Saturday, Wang accused the US of adopting a superior attitude and using its strength to pressure other countries.

“China would never accept any country that claims to be superior to others,” he told China’s Phoenix Television. “If the US has not learned to treat other countries equally, China and the international community have the responsibility to help the US learn how to do this.”

Biden administration officials have said the goal of the talks is not to negotiate specific issues but to keep high-level communications channels open. The US wants to ensure that guardrails are in place to prevent competition between the countries from becoming conflict, they said.

A possible meeting between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to be on the agenda, possibly on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Rome at the end of October.

Sherman, who arrived on Sunday evening from Mongolia, tweeted “heartfelt condolences (from the United States) to those who have lost loved ones” in severe storms and flooding last week that killed at least 63 people in Henan province.

Her meetings follow an initial and highly contentious meeting in March in Anchorage, Alaska, where Wang and veteran Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi flew to meet secretary of state Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

John Kerry, the Biden administration’s special climate envoy, travelled to Shanghai for meetings with his Chinese counterpart in April.

With Agence France-Presse and Associated Press

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