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US China search for common ground in talks before likely Biden-Xi summit

USA and China have opened up talks to reduce bitterness in relations (Photo: IANS)

After several rounds of accusations, threats and sabre rattling, the United States and China are seeking common ground ahead of likely summit between US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. The two leaders are not unfamiliar with each other. They had spoken to each other on the eve of the Chinese Lunar year. 

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met the new Chinese ambassador to the US, Qin Gang, in an all-important meeting in Washington on Thursday, which is likely to steer the US further away from the implacable acrimony of the Donald Trump years.

The two officials took forward the discussion from Sherman's July visit to China with key issues being Taiwan, the coronavirus origins, trade disputes, human rights and also American sanctions on Chinese officials.

The run-up to the meeting has been anything but harmonious with both sides accusing each other of various violations and embittering relations.

A statement by Ned Price, State Department spokesman welcoming Qin to Washington said: "The deputy secretary reviewed issues from her meetings with PRC officials in Tianjin last month and expressed the United States’ commitment to continuing discussions".

The Chinese embassy in Washington too released a statement, saying that the relationship between the two nations is at a crossroads.

The South China Morning Post reports: "According to the embassy, Qin said he would follow the spirit of a telephone conversation between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden on the eve of the Lunar New Year, enhance communication and dialogue and work to “promote a rational, stable, manageable and constructive China-US relationship".”

The Chinese ambassador added that the two officials had detailed and frank exchange of views. Reporting on the developments, Chinese news agency Xinhua said: "The two sides agreed that Sino-US bilateral relations are very important, and it is necessary to resolve issues through dialogue and communication, manage differences and contradictions, and improve bilateral relations".

The Chinese side has expressed clearly that it is Taiwan which will be the crux of the bilateral relations between the two nations. Qin has reportedly told Sherman that Taiwan is a sensitive issue with China as the latter looks upon American official visits, military deals and support to Taiwan unfavourably. 

Experts say that it will be a long road for both nations to resolve their differences and take a path to peace. If Beijing is vexed about Taiwan, Washington too holds a long list of grievances against China. Progress in ties, if any, is likly to happen only at a glacial pace.