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Even before Wang Yi’s visit, US and China were quietly working towards easing tensions

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Washington

The US and China have been quietly working on improving their relations for sometime. And now with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s ongoing visit to Washington, the stage is more or less set for a face to face meeting between the Presidents of both countries– Xi Jinping and Joe Biden at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meet next month in San Francisco.

Barring some sudden crisis between now and APEC it is increasingly clear Xi is coming to San Francisco and Xi and Biden will meet, Bill Bishop, who leads a newsletter Sinocism, focusing on Chinese affairs noted.

Not just that. On Wednesday, Xi met California Governor Gavin Newsom in Beijing.

“It is also useful for PRC officials to learn more about Newsom, who is likely a future US presidential candidate,” Bishop wrote in Sinocism.

After meeting Xi, Newsom said he is keen to push for greater cooperation between California and China especially on climate change and new energy. California is willing to be China’s long-term, stable and strong partner, Newsom said.

In another development, the China-US economic working group headed by vice-ministerial level finance officials too held its first meeting earlier this week– albeit virtually.

How things have slowly turned

In June US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited China followed by a four-day trip by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in July. In the same month John Kerry, the US’ special envoy on climate ,too visited China. Thereafter, in September, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo undertook a four-day trip to China. Besides Beijing, Raimondo also made a pit stop at Shanghai Disneyland.

Importantly, she held a meeting with Chinese Minister of Culture and Tourism Hu Heping as well and underlined the need to boost people-to-people connect and tourism between the US and China.

Separately in Malta, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan with Chinese Communist Party Politburo Member, Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission and Wang Yi.

“The high-level interactions between China and the US have resumed at a faster pace since May, which is evidently helpful in stabilizing bilateral relations and preventing them from further deteriorating,” Diao Daming, an associate professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times.

Meanwhile, in September, the US and China agreed to set up two working groups to look into issues related to economic and financial matters and iron out differences as much as possible and boost bilateral ties. The meetings are slated to be held at regular intervals.

“Despite rising tension between Washington and Beijing, the two countries are extremely self-seeking. The US is largely dependent on China for its supply chain.

South China Morning Post in an article noted, “China needs the US and the EU. Total US goods and services imports from China in 2022 were US$564 billion. Who else is going to buy that much? The EU also needs China, whose market is a significant counterbalance to the EU’s growing dependence on the US.

The Chinese newspapers’ tone and tenor in reference to dealing with the US has changed as well, becoming relatively conciliatory.

Also read: China’s former reformist Prime Minister Li Keqiang passes away