China’s US envoy urges cooperation, cites ‘severe’ challenges

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s ambassador to the United States urged the two superpowers to cooperate on improving relations even as they “face severe challenges” on a range of issues.

Beijing hopes to work with Washington so that relations can move forward on a stable, healthy and sustainable track, but the two must jointly establish a correct understanding, Xie Feng told a Harvard University forum, according to a statement released by the Chinese Embassy in Washington on Sunday.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit China from Wednesday for wide-ranging talks, including on the Middle East crisis, the Russia-Ukraine war and tensions in the South China Sea.

“China does not gamble on the United States to lose, interfere in its internal affairs, or interfere in the U.S. election, and is willing to be a partner and friend with the United States,” Xie told the conference.

“If the United States continues to interfere in China’s internal affairs and harm China’s interests on issues related to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet, and the South China Sea, how can we maintain the bottom line of bilateral relations no matter how many ‘guardrails’ are set up?”

Bilateral relations have been vexed in recent months over issues including trade, allegations of national security threats, confrontations in the South China Sea and Washington ramping up ties with Japan and Philippines, which Beijing labelled “bloc politics” and “exclusive circles”.

(Reporting by Bernard Orr and Ethan Wang; Editing by William Mallard)