Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Monday that China-US ties would impact the “destiny of mankind”, as he met with a group of American senators in Beijing.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is the latest high-level US official to go to China as Washington seeks to ease tensions with Beijing, leading a six-person delegation.
“How China and the United States get along with each other in the face of a world of change and turmoil will determine the future and destiny of mankind,” Xi said as he met with Schumer at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.
“I have said many times, including to several presidents, that we have 1,000 reasons to improve China-US relations, but not one reason to ruin them,” Xi said, adding China-US ties are “the most important bilateral relationship in the world”.
Schumer, in turn, told Xi that “our countries, together, will shape this century”.
“That is why we must manage our relationship responsibly and respectfully,” he said.
Schumer later told reporters the meeting with Xi lasted 80 minutes, double the alotted time.
Earlier China’s top diplomat Wang Yi said he hoped Washington and Beijing could manage their differences “more rationally”.
Meeting with Schumer at Beijing’s Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, Foreign Minister Wang told the senate delegation he hoped their visit would help the two sides “manage existing differences more rationally, helping the relationship between the two countries return to the track of healthy development”.
Wang also said he hoped they would “more accurately understand China” after the trip, which he said comes as the world is in a “turbulent period of change”.
“The crisis in Ukraine has not yet subsided, and warfare has reemerged in the Middle East,” he said.
“All these various challenges need to be addressed by the international community, and China and the United States should play their due roles,” Wang said.
Schumer, in turn, thanked the Chinese delegation for their hospitality, noting there were several issues of “great concern” he was seeking to raise during his visit.
He said “a level playing field for American business and workers” was his delegation’s “number one goal”.
“Holding accountable China-based companies supplying deadly chemicals fuelling the fentanyl crisis in America” was another objective, he told Wang, as was “ensuring China does not support Russia’s immoral war against Ukraine”.
“Advancing human rights” was an additional priority, Schumer said.
Nicholas Burns, the US ambassador to China, described the meetings as a “step forward”.
“I felt that the Chinese leadership prepared very carefully for these meetings. They were ready for these detailed discussions. There was a level of energy on both sides, and I think a commitment to extend those conversations,” he said at a press conference.
– ‘Troubled times’ –
Schumer had said he was “very disappointed” by a Sunday statement from Beijing’s foreign ministry on the escalating violence between Israel and the Palestinians.
Beijing called Sunday for all sides to show “calm” and “cease fire immediately”, without explicitly condemning a Palestinian attack that has left hundreds in Israel dead.
China instead urged the establishment of a two-state solution to end the violence.
“I urge you and the Chinese people to stand with the Israeli people and condemn these cowardly and vicious attacks,” Schumer told Wang.
He reiterated his call for Beijing to support Israel in his with meeting Xi, urging the Chinese leader to “stand with the Israeli people”.
At a press conference after the meeting, he said China had “rectified” its initial statement.
“A bunch of us made the request that China use its influence on Iran,” Schumer said at a press conference.
“We said they have influence with Iran in many different ways, and we’ve asked them to do everything they could to not have Iran spread this conflagration.
“They said they would deliver the message”
– Senior meetings –
On Monday, Schumer also met with Zhao Leji, the head of the standing committee of China’s rubber-stamp National People’s Congress.
“As the two great powers it is natural we find ourselves in competition in areas like trade, technology, diplomacy, and more,” Schumer told Zhao.
“We welcome this competition,” Schumer stressed. “We do not seek conflict.”
Schumer is the latest high-level US official to visit China as Washington seeks to ease tensions with Beijing, which have flared in recent years over everything from trade to human rights.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury and Commerce Secretaries Janet Yellen and Gina Raimondo, as well as climate envoy John Kerry, have all visited China this year.
And President Joe Biden on Friday said he may meet Xi in San Francisco in November, but added that nothing has been scheduled yet.
Wang is expected to visit Washington ahead of the November APEC summit in San Francisco.