Sherman’s meeting with Yang and Xie was no less heated as the two sides began exchanging blows even before Sherman arrived.
In the run-up to her departure from the US, the White House said Sherman would tell the Chinese side that the US will deal with China from “a position of strength,” while “a level playing field” and “guardrails” are needed to ensure ties do not veer into conflict.
On his part,Wang warned that China would not accept the US taking a “superior” position in the relationship. “China would never accept any country that claims to be superior to others. If the US has not learned to treat other countries equally, China and the international community have the responsibility to help the US make up for this lesson,” Wang said.
Following the meeting between Sherman and Xie on July 25, China released a transcript of the meeting, according to which Xie made an elaborate statement that rejected major elements of the Biden administration’s approach toward China.
Regarding the “competition-cooperation-confrontation” trichotomy advocated by the Biden administration to manage the US-China relationship, Xie said that the real focus of US policy toward China is confrontation.
“The collaborative aspect is just expediency and the competitive aspect is a narrative trap,” Xie said. “When the Biden administration needs China, it demands cooperation, and when it comes to areas where the US is superior to China, it calls for decoupling and sanctions. And in areas where the US wants to contain China, it leaves no stone unturned,” Xie said.
Regarding Washington’s rhetoric on “guardrails,” Xie said that if the US wants to set up guidelines to prevent conflicts, both countries should set them. “It should follow the principles of equality and reciprocity, with the interests of both sides taken into consideration and binding for both sides,” Xie said, “It cannot become the US unilaterally defining what China can or cannot do.”
Xie again criticized the US notion of “engaging other countries from a position of strength,” which he said was just another version of “the big bullying the small” and “might is right.” “This is pure coercive diplomacy,” Xie added.
Regarding the concept of “rule-based” diplomacy frequently raised by the Biden administration, Xie said that the US version of a “rulesbased international order” deviates from the UN-based framework of international law and order.
“It’s an effort by the US and a few other Western countries to frame their own rules as international rules and impose them on other countries,” Xie added.
According to the transcript, the two sides also discussed “issues of common concern” including climate change, the fight against illegal drugs, and Iran, the Korean Peninsula and Myanmar. But Xie hinted that China’s cooperation with the US on these issues would not be unconditional.
“Any cooperation should be based on mutual trust and mutual benefits, and the US should not expect China to cooperate on these issues unconditionally while it seeks to contain China,” Xie said.
Xie delivered a list of 16 actions to Sherman that the US should stop and 10 individual cases, including US sanctions and visa restrictions on Chinese officials and entities, and senior Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s extradition. Addressing these issues and cases will help gain a solid foothold for moving relations forward, Xie said.