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Wang Yi is expected to meet Wendy Sherman in Tianjin on Monday. Photo: AFP

China promises US a ‘tutorial’ in how to treat other countries equally ahead of deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman’s visit

  • Foreign Minister Wang Yi criticises Washington for thinking it is ‘superior’ and says it needs to learn how to treat others equally
  • Sherman holds talks with US executives after arriving in China
China will give the United States a “tutorial” about how to treat other nations equally if needed, the country’s foreign minister said ahead of a visit by US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman.

“The United States always wants to exert pressure on other countries by virtue of its own strength, thinking that it is superior to others,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Saturday.

“However, I would like to tell the US side clearly that there has never been a country in this world that is superior to others, nor should there be, and China will not accept any country claiming to be superior to others.

“If the United States has not learned how to get along with other countries on an equal footing by now, then it is our responsibility, together with the international community, to give the US a good tutorial in this regard.”

In upcoming talks, US diplomat to stress need for ‘guardrails’ with China

The statement was published on the foreign ministry’s website a day before Sherman’s arrival.

Her visit is for the first face-to-face meeting between senior officials since US climate envoy John Kerry’s visit to Shanghai in April.

On Sunday night, Sherman said she held a virtual meeting earlier that day with US executives based in China.

“It was valuable to hear directly from members of the US business community about the challenges they’re facing in China,” she wrote on her Twitter account.

“The Biden-Harris administration is pushing for a level playing field for American companies in China.”

In a separate post, she sent condolences to victims of floods in Henan province.

“As I travel to China today, I want to extend the United States’ heartfelt condolences to those who have lost loved ones in the severe floods in Henan province. Our thoughts are with all those affected by this tragedy.”

Wang made his comments after meeting his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

Wang was responding to a background briefing by a senior US official, who said the country was engaging with China from a position of “strength and solidarity” and Sherman hoped to set up “guardrails” for the rivalry with China.

“She’s going to underscore that we do not want that stiff and sustained competition to veer into conflict,” the official said.

“This is why the US wants to ensure that there are guardrails and parameters in place to responsibly manage the relationship.”

Tensions between China and the US have no sign of easing ahead of the visit.

Wendy Sherman is the first senior US official to visit China since April. Photo: Getty Images
On Friday Beijing announced sanctions against six individuals, including former commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, and an entity in the US in retaliation for earlier sanctions imposed by Washington on Chinese officials over Hong Kong.

The US said Sherman would meet senior Chinese officials in the northern city of Tianjin on Monday, including foreign vice-minister Xie Feng and Wang.

The meeting is widely viewed as part of the effort to set up a direct meeting between presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping at a time when the two countries have clashed over everything from trade to human rights.

Why Tianjin? And what’s in store in China for US envoy Wendy Sherman?

The senior US official also said that Sherman’s visit was seen as a “continuation” of March’s meeting in Anchorage, which saw a public clash between the countries’ top diplomats.

Yang Jiechi, China’s most senior foreign policy official, told the US delegation, led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, they were not qualified to “speak from a position of strength” when criticising China.

Ryan Hass, who directed China policy for the National Security Council under former US president Barack Obama, said the visit would likely yield clarification rather than any major concessions on top concerns.

“Neither side will offer concessions in service of lowering tensions. There will not be negotiations over outcomes for the visit,” said Hass, now with the Brookings Institution.

“Rather, I expect the meetings will help push the relationship a step forward in the direction of clarifying each side’s top objectives and top concerns for the relationship going forward.”

Zhu Feng, a US relations specialist at Nanjing University, said while it was obvious that both sides would reaffirm their political position, there were signals that they both did not want tensions to go out of control.

“The US side talked about the need to build guardrails to ensure ties do not get out of control and such willingness is shared by the Chinese side,” he said.

“It’s impossible to see any groundbreaking announcement coming from this visit, but the opportunity is a rare one for both sides so I expect the talks to be at least pragmatic.”

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: US ‘needs tutorial’ on how to treat others