Foreign Affairs
China Ignoring US Mediation Attempts

The Biden administration is seeking intervention with Tehran to rein in the Houthis of Yemen, amidst the Axis of Resistance expanding its operations against American and Israeli interests. President Biden deputed National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to handle this delicate mission with Beijing, instead of the US’s top diplomat Antony Blinken. Sullivan stayed overnight in Thailand to launch his charm offensive vis-a-vis Foreign Minister Wang Yi, but came away with no sign that China is willing to use its influence with Tehran. An unattributable media briefing by a senior NSC official via teleconference revealed that reading Chinese tea leaves is an art in itself.

Sullivan seems to have hit a brick wall, as the Biden Administration should have learned from previous experiences with Beijing in trying to prod China to convince North Korea to scale back its nuclear weapons program or roll back its “no limits” friendship with Russia over Ukraine. South Korea’s military reported North Korea’s recent cruise missile tests, escalating US-China tensions and indicating Pyongyang’s expansion of weapons to overwhelm US targets in the Pacific. The Biden administration has been accused of selectively engaging with China on issues aimed at buying time for the president to give his best shot in the upcoming November elections.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry urged the US and China to share experiences, learn from each other, and work together for mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation. Wang Yi emphasized that the Taiwan issue is China’s internal affairs, and Taiwan’s regional elections cannot change the basic fact that Taiwan is a part of China. “Taiwan independence” poses the greatest threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, and also poses the greatest challenge to Sino-US relations. The US must uphold the one-China principle, avoid supporting Taiwan independence, and support China’s peaceful reunification, despite China’s perceived ego trip and selective engagement.

China and the US have agreed to further discuss the boundary between national security and economic activities, focusing on international and regional issues such as the Middle East, Ukraine, the Korean Peninsula, and the South China Sea. The Chinese readout did not specifically mention the Houthis or Tehran, but instead underscored the perceived threat of Taiwan independence as the biggest challenge to China-US relations. Beijing expressed concerns over US export restrictions limiting other countries’ development, and they plan to discuss the balance between national security and economic activities in future meetings.

China’s reluctance to use its diplomatic and economic heft to support US moves to address the Red Sea disruptions and restrain North Korea’s behavior underscores the limitations of the Biden administration’s diplomatic outreach efforts or charm offensive to win over Beijing. The Chinese readout acknowledged that there are areas where Beijing is interested in an engagement with the US, such as the joint implementation of the “San Francisco Vision,” which translates to regular contacts between the two presidents, promotion of bilateral exchanges, making good use of strategic communication channels, continuing discussions over guiding principles of Sino-US relations, cooperation in drug control, artificial intelligence intergovernmental dialogue mechanisms, and cultural exchanges.

China believes it has ruled the world for 500 years, living at the expense of others. However, this logic ignores the fact that most former colonies have gained independence, become aware of their national interests, and are growing rapidly, leaving the West behind. China resists US misperceptions about Iran and North Korea, avoiding US assistance in West Asia and the Far East, focusing on the right side of history.

BeijingBiden AdministrationChinaChina Ignoring US Mediation AttemptsNorth KoreaSouth KoreaTaiwanUnited StatesUS