China’s top diplomat has called on the US to take steps to improve ties, as tensions simmer over Taiwan, trade and other issues.
Foreign minister Wang Yi’s remarks were delivered virtually to a forum marking the 50th anniversary of the Shanghai Communique, signed during the icebreaking 1972 visit to China by then-president Richard Nixon.
That trip led seven years later to the US and China establishing diplomatic relations, upon which the US cut formal ties with Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory to be brought under its control by force if necessary.
Mr Wang urged Washington to “reinstate a reasonable and pragmatic China policy” and work with China to put their relations on track.
He reiterated China’s complaints that the US was not upholding its commitments, but did not mention any specific steps China would take.
The sides need to view their relations “in the broader perspective, with a more inclusive attitude, and choose dialogue over confrontation, cooperation over conflict, openness over seclusion, and integration over decoupling,” Mr Wang said.
China has been particularly irked by US secretary of state Antony Blinken’s characterisation of ties as “competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, adversarial when it must be”, saying the sides should be cooperating across the board, in spite of their sharp differences.
“The United States should truly see China as a partner in the course of development, rather than an adversary, and power games,” Mr Wang said.
Rapprochement between Washington and Beijing in 1972 was largely drive by their mutual distrust of the Soviet Union.
In the decades since, China has grown increasingly close to Moscow, while US-Russia tensions have soared over the war in Ukraine.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping met with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Beijing earlier this month, and China has refused to either condemn or endorse Russia’s actions, despite its insistence on upholding national sovereignty above all.
“China must decide where to stand and understand that bilateral relations with the US will only become more strained in the absence of a clear choice to stand with international law,” said forum participant Jacob Lew, chair of the influential National Committee on US-China Relations and a former U.S. treasury secretary.
The Shanghai Communique dwelled extensively on the status of Taiwan, which split from the mainland amid civil war in 1949 and has never been governed by the communist People’s Republic of China.
Following the 1979 break in ties with Taiwan, the US congress passed legislation assuring that the US would ensure Taiwan could defend itself and treat threats to the island as issues of “major concern”.
Taiwan continues to be the main irritant in US-China relations, particularly as successive American administrations have approved arms sales to the island and increased high-level contacts with the democratically elected government in Taipei.
On Saturday, China’s defence ministry protested as provocative the passage of the guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson through the Taiwan Strait.
The Strait is in international waters and the US Navy said the ship’s passage “demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military flies, sails and operates anywhere international law allows.”