China should present it is not an ‘agent of instability’ on Taiwan, US Ambassador to China says

“We do not believe there should be a crisis in US-China relations over the visit — the peaceful visit — of the Speaker of the House of Representatives to Taiwan … it was a manufactured crisis by the government in Beijing. It was an overreaction,” Burns instructed CNN Friday from the US Embassy.

It’s now “incumbent upon the government here in Beijing to convince the rest of the world that it will act peacefully in the future,” the ambassador stated.

“I think there’s a lot of concern around the world that China has now become an agent of instability in the Taiwan Strait and that’s not in anyone’s interest.”

Burns, a profession diplomat and former US ambassador to NATO, arrived in Beijing in March to take up what’s arguably the US’ most vital diplomatic posting — navigating US-China ties already strained by tensions over a variety of points together with China’s human rights file, commerce practices and army growth within the South China Sea.

China’s stringent Covid-19 restrictions have additionally lowered diplomatic journey into and out of China, putting Burns much more squarely on the entrance line of dealing with the more and more contentious relationship between the world’s two largest economies.

That was clear on the evening on August 2, when Burns acquired a summons for a gathering with Chinese language Vice International Minister Xie Feng at what he describes as the precise second that the airplane carrying Pelosi and her congressional delegation landed in Taipei.

“We had a very spirited, I would say quite contentious meeting,” Burns stated, describing intimately for the primary time that dialogue, which was confirmed each by Washington and Beijing on the time.

“I defended the speaker. I defended her right to travel to Taiwan. I defended the peace and stability that we’ve had in the Taiwan Strait for nearly six decades,” Burns stated, including that he challenged Xie to make sure that the Chinese language authorities would act in a approach that will “promote peace and stability.”

As an alternative, Burns stated, Beijing designed its response, together with sending missiles over Taiwan, to “intimidate and coerce the Taiwan authorities” and has “conducted a global campaign” blaming the US for what it sees as undermining stability within the Taiwan Strait.

“We’ve been very, very clear about (maintaining our policy). The issue is — is one government going to react in an aggressive and violent way to disturb the peace? That has to concern everybody in the world,” he stated.

Nancy Pelosi received Taiwan's highest civilian honor from Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen at the president's office on August 3, 2022.

Diplomatic fallout

The US upholds a “One China” coverage, however has by no means accepted China’s ruling Communist Get together’s declare of sovereignty over Taiwan. Washington maintains “strategic ambiguity” over whether or not it might come to Taiwan’s protection within the occasion of a Chinese language assault.

The Communist Get together has lengthy vowed to “reunify” the island, which it has by no means managed, with the Chinese language mainland, by pressure if vital.

China decried the Pelosi go to as a violation of its “sovereignty and territorial integrity,” with Burns’ counterpart, Chinese language Ambassador to the US Qin Gang earlier this month saying the US should “bear the responsibilities” for the state of affairs it has created.

Beijing’s diplomatic retaliation included the cancellation of future telephone calls and conferences between Chinese language and US protection leaders and suspending bilateral local weather talks between the international locations — the world’s two largest carbon emitters.

These measures, and Pelosi’s go to, got here on the heels of a telephone name between Chinese language chief Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden in late July, wherein either side had stated their groups would communicate on cooperation, together with — based on the White Home — on a possible face-to-face assembly. The 2 haven’t met in-person throughout Biden’s time as President, with Xi conducting the majority of his Covid-era diplomacy by way of video hyperlink.

Burns stated Beijing’s diplomatic measures within the wake of the Pelosi’s go to may have world results, including that China’s suspension of local weather talks would impression the International South and international locations which are most vulnerable local weather change.

“We strongly urge (China) to return to the negotiating table with the United States on climate,” Burns stated.

“We should have regular conversations at the senior level about the issues that separate us, because that’s in the best interest of both countries and certainly in the best interest of the world,” he stated, including that whereas there was official contact by way of their respective embassies, there was “no substitute” for cabinet-level senior conversations.

When requested whether or not any classes Beijing could have discovered from observing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine might be utilized to Taiwan, Burns stated the US is “watching China very carefully as it conducts its relationship with Russia.”

China has refused to sentence the invasion or confer with it as such.

“We have been very clear that there will be consequences if there is systemic Chinese government support for Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine,” he stated, including they’d not seen such assist.

Constructing connections

Burns has fielded delicate briefs prior to now. He was a lead official negotiating thorny points comparable to Iran’s nuclear program, army help to Israel, and the US-India Civil Nuclear Settlement. And this time, he says the US’ China mission is attempting its “best to connect” with its counterparts.

Making connections with the Chinese language public was one other “major ambition,” stated the ambassador, who has traveled to China a number of instances since his first journey in 1988, together with a go to for the handover of Hong Kong from the UK to China in 1997.

'New normal' across the Taiwan Strait as China threat looms ever closer

However Burns stated his work connecting with Chinese language folks, each in individual and by way of the embassy’s social media channels, has additionally been challenged by China’s zero-Covid management measures — which may make home journey and in-person conferences troublesome — and its common censorship of the embassy’s posts on Chinese language social media platforms.

“We feel very strongly that it’s our need to get out and visit people and conduct diplomacy with the Chinese people, as well as the Chinese government. So we certainly want to see the day come when zero-Covid ends, but that’s really a decision not for us, that’s for the government of China,” stated the ambassador, who has spent greater than 30 days in Chinese language government-mandated quarantine throughout his time there.

“Pernicious censorship” by the Chinese language authorities has seen embassy social media posts together with these on the US’ China coverage, Hong Kong, NATO, and assist for LGBTQI Satisfaction censored, Burns stated.

On the similar time, Burns stated, he has been “disturbed” by Chinese language authorities narratives blaming the battle in Ukraine on the US and NATO, and never Russia, which launched the invasion — a difficulty he stated he is raised along with his Chinese language counterparts.

Regardless of these challenges and the US pledge to “compete responsibly” with China, Burns known as on China to satisfy the US “halfway,” each to debate their variations and the problems the place they may be capable to work collectively for the higher good: “You have to show up at the negotiating table to cooperate,” he stated.