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U.S.-China News Brief
July 14, 2022

Blinken and Wang Yi Meet

On July 9, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met on the sidelines of the G20 conference in Indonesia. The meeting lasted more than 5 hours. Both officials emphasized the importance of high-level face-to-face exchanges and continued communication.

According to Blinken, he explained the Biden administration’s approach to China and U.S.-China relations, discussed areas for potential cooperation – global health, the climate crisis, counternarcotics, and food security – and outlined concerns regarding Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet, and Xinjiang. They also discussed major regional and global issues, including Ukraine and North Korea.

Blinken told reporters: “Despite the complexities of our relationship, I can say with some confidence that our delegations found today’s discussions useful and constructive. Moving forward, the United States wants our channels of communication with Beijing to continue to remain open. And as always, we’re committed to defending and advancing the interests of the American people and American values in all of our engagements with Beijing.”

According to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) readout of the meeting, Wang Yi highlighted challenges and misconceptions facing the U.S.-China relationship, including the lasting effects from “the difficulties caused by the previous U.S. administration,” shared concerns about growing “China-phobia,” emphasized the importance of the Three Communiqués, and reiterated the importance China places on Taiwan. [Full readout]

During the meeting, Wang Yi presented four lists to Blinken – “the list of U.S. wrongdoings that must stop, the list of key individual cases that the U.S. must resolve, the list of Acts in the 117th Congress of high concern to China, and the list of cooperation proposals in eight areas.” The full contents of the lists have not been released, but they were described in more detail during a July 11 press conference.

MFA spokesperson Wang Wenbin explained, “The lists once again demonstrate China’s serious position that the U.S. must stop exercising containment and suppression, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, and stop undermining China’s sovereignty, security and development interests. The lists also reflect China’s constructive attitude about conducting practical cooperation with the U.S. on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefits.”

The National Bureau of Asian Research’s Nadège Rolland pointed out the stark differences in the U.S. and China’s summaries of the meeting. She said, “Both countries continue to see the other as what they wish it to be, not as what they actually are: whereas Wang’s readout firmly positions China as the dominant power, summoning the U.S. to align with Beijing’s preferences with lists of demands that are supposed to force a change of behavior from Washington, Blinken’s readout reflects a ‘business as usual’ posture that is stuck in 2008… Both countries are talking past each other.”

Other analysts are more optimistic, stating that although no direct progress was made during the latest meeting, the continued effort to promote high-level engagement is important on its own. For example, Rand Corp’s Timothy Heath noted, “Neither side is eager for a fight.” Biden and Xi are expected to have a dialogue in the coming weeks.

Pacific Islands Forum

On July 12, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke virtually at the Pacific Islands Forum. She pledged renewed U.S. diplomatic attention and engagement with the Pacific Islands, announced plans to establish U.S. embassies in Tonga and Kiribati, and outlined various investments, initiatives, and goals for the region. [Full remarks]

During her remarks, she said, “At a time when we see bad actors seeking to undermine the rules-based order, we must stand united.”

MFA spokesperson Wang Wenbin responded, “we believe that all countries, when pursuing cooperation with [Pacific Island Countries], should follow the principle of openness and inclusiveness and not target any third party or harm their interests, instead of pledging openness and inclusiveness while secretly ganging up and forming small circles.”

From late May to early June, Wang Yi visited 10 Pacific nations.

Additional News

China’s expected second quarter growth is under 1 percent, the lowest since the beginning of the pandemic. The past months saw large scale Covid lockdowns in major Chinese cities and the highly infectious omicron BA.5 has led to concerns of possible new lockdowns. Many Chinese companies have been looking outside of China for additional growth opportunities.

On July 14, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen delivered remarks ahead of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting. She mentioned that one of her goals for the meetings is to push China to restructure debts of developing countries. [Full Remarks]

On July 14, the USS Benfold sailed past the Parcel Islands. Beijing reported that the People’s Liberation Army “drove it away” from Chinese territory. The U.S. Navy disputed Beijing’s statement and said they “asserted navigational rights and freedoms… consistent with international law.”

July 11 marked 6 years since the arbitration ruling on the Philippines-China dispute on South China Sea territory claims. Blinken released a statement marking the anniversary and reaffirming U.S. commitments to the Philippines. [Full Statement]

Growing numbers of Chinese homeowners are refusing to pay the mortgages on their stalled and unfinished housing projects. Over the weekend, protesters gathered in Zhengzhou demanding their money after accounts were frozen amid a fraud investigation.

China is experiencing a major heat wave. On July 13, 84 cities issued red alerts for temperatures expected above 104°F.