China-US tensions: meet us halfway to build trust and ease conflict, former Chinese vice-premier urges Biden

China-US tensions: meet us halfway to build trust and ease conflict, former Chinese vice-premier urges Biden

A former Chinese vice-premier urged the newly inaugurated United States President Joe Biden to “meet China halfway” to rebuild trust and restart dialogue to ease the “unprecedented predicament” of strained relations between the major powers.

Zeng Peiyan, who served as vice-premier from 2003 to 2008 before becoming a top economic policy adviser in Beijing, said in virtual remarks at the Hong Kong forum “US-China Relations: The Way Forward” on Tuesday that the two sides needed to work to abolish trade tariffs, remove restrictions on people-to-people exchanges and cooperate on global leadership for issues such as pandemic control and climate change.

“It was completely wrong to approach and manage Sino-US relations with such cold war mentality and ideological bias,” he said. “I hope that the US can take the opportunity to change its mentality and behaviour and meet China halfway so that we can engage rather than confront each other. To do that, first we need to build mutual trust by restarting and improving the multilateral engagement mechanisms between China and the US.”

Zeng spoke at the event co-hosted by the China-United States Exchange Foundation and the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, a Beijing-based think tank that he chairs. He argued that the US’ strategic doubts and anxieties about the threat of a rising China had contributed to plunging relations in recent years.