Chinese diplomat calls on Beijing and Washington to mend relations

Beijing wants to revitalise its long-held non-intervention policy

Yang Jiechi, China's Politburo member, speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. Mike Pompeo, U.S. secretary of state, and James Mattis, U.S. secretary of defense, met with their Chinese counterparts in Washington for a diplomatic and security dialogue, which was postponed last month amid a series of disputes. Jiechi said that China supports dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

China's most senior diplomat called on Tuesday for Beijing and Washington to put relations back on a predictable and constructive path, saying the US should stop interfering in China's internal affairs, like Hong Kong and Tibet.

Yang Jiechi, director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party, is the highest ranking Chinese official to speak on China-US relations since President Joe Biden took office.

Under the Trump administration, US relations with China plunged to their lowest point since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1979, as both sides clashed over issues ranging from trade and technology to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Xinjiang, and the South China Sea.

While reassuring the US that China has no intention to challenge or replace it on the world stage, Mr Yang said that no force can hold back China's development.

"The United States should stop interfering in Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang and other issues regarding China's territorial integrity and sovereignty," Mr Yang said, defining these as issues concerning China's core interests and national dignity.

Speaking at an online forum organised by the National Committee on US-China Relations on Tuesday in Beijing, Mr Yang said China never interfered with US internal affairs, including its elections.

Mr Yang, whose position in the ruling Communist Party gives him more influence than even the foreign minister, also urged the Biden administration not to abuse the concept of national security in trade.

"We in China hope that the United States will rise above the outdated mentality of zero-sum, major-power rivalry and work with China to keep the relationship on the right track," he said.

Mr Yang reasserted that China is prepared to work with the US to move the relationship forward along a track of "no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win co-operation".

The word co-operation appeared 24 times in his speech. He suggested that US firms could gain from an estimated $22 trillion of exports to China in the coming decade.

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