China seeks to tone down 'backfired' diplomacy, US official says

Washington and Beijing look to stabilise ties

Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Saudi Arabia on Thursday. Photo: Saudi Royal Court / EPA
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

China’s assertive diplomacy has “backfired” and Beijing is now seeking a more predictable relationship with the US as the Asian country's economy slows and the government loosens its Covid-19 curbs, Washington's top Asia official said on Thursday.

Elements of China’s aggressive “wolf warrior” diplomacy have clearly been unsuccessful, said Kurt Campbell, the White House's co-ordinator for the Indo-Pacific region.

Mr Campbell said attempts to challenge Japan over islands in the East China Sea and engage in military confrontations with India in Himalayas hurt Beijing’s standing in the world.

“They’ve taken on and challenged many countries simultaneously — whether it’s, you know, Japanese waters around the Senkakus, issues associated with India’s border areas, other exploits that suggest perhaps a more ambitious China,” Mr Campbell said at the Aspen Security Forum in Washington.

“I think they recognise that that has, in many respects, backfired.”

Mr Campbell’s comments are among his most detailed since Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden met on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, in November.

He said that Washington and Beijing wanted to stabilise ties, especially with their militaries operating in close proximity in Asia.

“As our forces rub up against one another, we want a greater degree of predictability and communication between Beijing and Washington,” Mr Campbell said.

“The last thing that the Chinese need right now is an openly hostile relationship with the United States. They want a degree of predictability and stability, and we seek that as well.”

Mr Campbell said that the coming months would see the “resumption of some of the more practical, predictable elements” of great-power diplomacy.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was part of the meetings in Bali, is set to head on an official diplomatic visit to China in early 2023 — a trip that was announced after Mr Xi and Mr Biden met.

Updated: December 08, 2022, 9:38 PM