China has called on the United States to stop “demonising” Beijing during the talks with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman who is also the most senior American official to visit under US President Joe Biden’s administration. As tensions between the US and China continue to remain tense, Sherman arrived in the city of Tianjin on July 25 intending to seek “guardrails” to mend bilateral ties that have suffered a blow due to a range of issues. In a readout issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng told Sherman to “change highly misguided mindset.”

The official statement read, “Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng said during talks with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman that the China-US relationship is now in a stalemate and faces serious difficulties. Fundamentally, it is because some Americans portray China as an “imagined enemy”…The hope may be that by demonizing China, the U.S. could somehow shift domestic public discontent over political, economic and social issues and blame China for its own structural problems.”

“The U.S. keeps making an issue with China. It’s as if the U.S. side has nothing to talk about except about China. We urge the United States to change its highly misguided mindset and dangerous policy,” it added.

Xie’s exchange with Sherman echoed the similar fiery exchange between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Beijing top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Alaska in March. Sherman will also be meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and she tweeted on July 25 that she had spoken with American businesses about “the challenges they’re facing in China.” She also extended her “heartfelt condolences” to flood victims in Henan province.

US said it was hoping for ‘candid’ talks

The United States had said last week that it was hoping to use the “candid” talks as an opportunity to indicate to Beijing “what responsible and healthy competition looks like” while also wanting to prevent the relationship from turning into “conflict.” Sherman’s July 25-26 trip is shorn of the trappings of a full-fledged official visit. The US official will not be visiting Beijing, instead, Sherman will spend at least two days in Tianjin, China’s northeastern port city. As per reports, her visit is widely perceived as a preparatory step for an eventual meet between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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. — Wendy R. Sherman (@DeputySecState) July 25, 2021