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Biden says US-China relations set to improve 'very shortly'

Bloomberg • 3 min read
Biden says US-China relations set to improve 'very shortly'
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US President Joe Biden said he expected ties with China to improve “very shortly” after a spat over an alleged spy balloon earlier this year derailed relations.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday at the end of the Group of Seven summit in Japan, Biden said the US’s move to shoot down a “silly balloon that was carrying two freight cars worth of spying equipment” changed the dynamic after his meeting with President Xi Jinping in November last year.

“I think you’re gonna see that began to thaw very shortly,” Biden said on Sunday. He added that his administration was considering whether to lift sanctions on Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu, whom Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is seeking to meet at an event in June in Singapore.

Biden has previously voiced optimism the two would schedule a long-anticipated phone conversation, though he didn’t give any indication on how soon that might take place.

Beyond the balloon incident, China has accused the US of seeking to contain its rise by restricting access to advanced technology and providing support to Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory.

Biden also reiterated that the US would intervene if China moved to invade Taiwan, saying there needs to be a “mutually agreed” outcome between Beijing and Taipei.

See also: America can lead the multipolar world — if it chooses: Gordon Brown

“There is clear understanding among most of our allies that, in fact, if China were to act unilaterally, there would be a response,” Biden said.

China has long opposed any US official engagement with Taiwan, and said again in a statement over the weekend that the matter “must be resolved by the Chinese.”

“No one should underestimate the determination, resolve and capability of the Chinese people in safeguarding China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

See also: South Korea is making weapons faster and cheaper than the US

China also hit back against a G-7 initiative to counter “economic coercion,” saying the US’s sanctions and export controls “makes the US the real coercer that politicizes an weaponizes economic and trade relations.”

Micron Probe
On Sunday, China said it found serious cybersecurity risks after conducting a review of Micron Technology, and ordered operators of key information infrastructure to stop purchasing the US company’s products.

That came shortly after Micron cut a deal with Japan for financial aid to make next-generation memory chips, an agreement that US Ambassador Rahm Emanuel said set a precedent for countering Chinese “coercion.”

G-7 leaders said in a communique released over the weekend that they wanted “constructive and stable” relations with China even as they pushed ahead with steps to reduce dependence on Beijing for critical supply chains. The leaders emphasized that they were “not decoupling or turning inwards,” saying “economic resilience requires de-risking and diversifying.”

Despite all the heated rhetoric, the White House has started engaging with China on multiple fronts of late.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met China’s top diplomat Wang Yi in Vienna last week, and China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao next week is set to meet with both US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in Washington and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai in Detroit.

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