Chinese diplomat says the US must change its attitude before any talks

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A veteran Chinese diplomat warned that unless the US fundamentally changes its attitude toward the nation, there’s no point in talks on ways to safeguard the relationship.

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“China-US relations are very much strained,” said Xu Bu, head of the China Institute of International Studies, a think tank affiliated with the country’s foreign ministry. “One of the most important causes is that the US is worried that China may surpass it.”

Xu, a former envoy to Chile and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said the US’s failure to understand China’s rise was the main obstacle to improving bilateral ties.

“If the overall misperceptions cannot be properly addressed, if the view that China needs to be contained is not going to be readjusted, any crisis communication or crisis management won’t help,” Xu said at a press briefing Wednesday in Beijing.

Xu’s comments are the latest sign that it may be a while before China-US ties improve. Late last month, the Biden administration’s top Asia adviser, Kurt Campbell, said efforts to build guardrails to keep relations between the two countries from drastically worsening had so far been unsuccessful.

“The Chinese have been reluctant to engage in discussions around confidence-building or crisis communications hot lines,” Campbell added.

US-China tensions spiked once again after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the US this month. China’s military held three days of drills around the self-governing island, and on Wednesday Beijing indicated it would maintain pressure on Taipei to prevent any “separatist activities.”

Zhu Fenglian, spokeswoman for the Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing, also said that China would “take resolute measures to foil any external intervention, a reference to the military backing that the US gives Taiwan.”

The latest drills have added to strains caused by an alleged spy balloon that transited US territory in February, and clashes over everything from human rights to technology and the South China Sea.

US officials had said last month that a phone call between President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping could take place after Tsai’s travel through the US. Now it’s not clear when that will occur.

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