A series of tweets from China’s new foreign minister seem to signal a possible softening in China-U.S. relations. Qin Gang, a trusted aide to leader Xi Jinping and outgoing Chinese ambassador to the U.S., offered enthusiastic praise of the U.S. on Tuesday.
“Going forward, I will continue to care about and support the growth of China-US relations, encourage dialogue, mutual understanding and affinity between the two peoples, work for mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation between our two countries,” Qin tweeted.
The sentiment comes at a time when relations between the two countries are relatively strained, from Taiwan to trade. Talks between the two powerhouses frosted over following former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August, an island Beijing hopes to eventually control. Beijing responded to Pelosi’s visit by conducting military drills near and around the island.
Repeated U.S. statements of support for Taiwan have contributed to “the biggest tinderbox” in bilateral relations, Qin told NPR. President Joe Biden has said the U.S. would come to Taiwan’s defense if faced with an “unprecedented attack” by China.
As U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken readies for his visit to China in January, he said he has already connected with Qin on “maintaining open lines of communication” they experienced during Qin’s ambassadorship.
As for trade, while the U.S. imports more from China than any other country, relations there have continued to stiffen; from tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump and sustained by Biden; to the CHIPS and Science Act and Inflation Reduction Act, aimed at lessening reliance on Chinese goods, particularly semiconductors.
At least in public statements, it appears China is seeking a more stable relationship with the U.S. this year. To close out the more tumultuous 2022, Qin wrote in an op-ed, “China-U.S. relations should not be a zero-sum game where one side out-competes the other or thrives at the expense of the other.”