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Washington and Beijing have set up two working groups to resolve economic and financial issues in a bid to increase engagement and stabilize turbulent US-China relations.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and her Chinese counterpart, Vice Premier He Lifeng, will oversee the groups, which come two months after Yellen’s visit to Beijing to meet with Chinese business leaders.
Yellen said the formation of the groups, building on her visit in July, represented “an important step forward in our bilateral relationship.” She added that the groups would “serve as important forums for communicating America’s interests and concerns” and promote healthy economic competition between rivals.
The move comes a week after U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan held a secret two-day meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, where the two countries agreed to hold consultations on areas ranging from Asia-Pacific policy to to maritime issues. A senior U.S. official said officials also agreed to talk about arms control.
It also follows a trip to China by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo last month, who established several new formal channels for dialogue, including an exchange of information on export controls and a “trade issues working group” to address conflicts over trade and technology.
The U.S. Treasury Department said the economic group will work toward stabilizing bilateral economic ties and provide a channel for countries to cooperate on global issues such as debt restructuring for low- and middle-income countries. The financial working group will address regulatory and financial stability issues.
The groups’ creation is the latest sign that countries are working to overcome the dispute that erupted in February when a suspected Chinese spy balloon flew over North America before being shot down.
That crisis scuttled an earlier agreement to restore ties between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping when they met at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, last year.
U.S. and Chinese officials are discussing a possible second face-to-face meeting if Xi attends the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in San Francisco in November. Experts are watching closely for signs of Xi’s plans after he missed the G20 leaders’ summit in India this month.
Beijing has been relatively cautious in its rhetoric toward the U.S. in recent months, saying Yellen’s visit raised “positive expectations for bilateral relations.”
State media also reported that Xi recently responded to a letter from a descendant of Gen. Joseph Stilwell in which he described the American officer, who commanded U.S. forces in China, Burma and India during World War II, as an “old friend of the Chinese people”.
Countries’ common struggle “for world peace” could inspire them to “help each other succeed and achieve prosperity together,” Xi reportedly said.
The Biden administration is also watching signs of recent political unrest in China. Beijing fired Qin Gang as foreign minister in July after the diplomat was absent from public view for a month.
U.S. officials recently told the Financial Times that Beijing is investigating Li Shangfu, the defense minister, who has not appeared in public for more than three weeks.
In July, Xi also fired the top two generals of the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force, an elite command that controls the country’s rapidly growing nuclear arsenal.
Source : www.ft.com