Sherman to stress ‘guardrails’ in talks with China

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is reportedly planning to tell China in forthcoming talks that while the U.S. is open to competition, a level playing field and guardrails must be in place to ensure that the two countries do not end up in conflict.

Reuters reported on Sunday that senior officials who briefed reporters ahead of Sherman’s discussions with Chinese officials said the two countries have to find responsible ways to control their competition.

Sherman is reportedly scheduled to arrive in Tianjin, southeast of Beijing, on Sunday. She will meet with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi the following day in the first high-ranking, face-to-face chat between Washington and Beijing in months.

“She’s going to underscore that we do not want that stiff and sustained competition to veer into conflict,” a senior U.S. administration official said before the talks, according to Reuters.

“The U.S. wants to ensure that there are guardrails and parameters in place to responsibly manage the relationship,” he said. “Everyone needs to play by the same rules and on a level playing field.”

One day before Sherman was scheduled to touch down in Tianjin, however, Wang Yi said China would not welcome the U.S. assuming a “superior” position in the relationship.

“In response to U.S. State Department spokesperson’s comments made before the visit of U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to China that the United States will deal with China from ‘a position of strength,’ Wang Yi said to journalists that the United States always wants to use its strength to pressure other countries and thinks it is superior,” a statement on the Chinese foreign ministry’s website reads.

“However, I must tell the United States clearly that there has never been and should never be a country superior to others in the world, and China will not accept such a claim by any country. If the United States has not learned to treat other countries equally, China and the international community have the obligation to help the United States make up for this lesson,” the statement continued.

The meeting comes as tensions between the U.S. and China continue to build.

President Biden put new pressure on China last week after publicly connecting the wide-ranging Microsoft Exchange Server cyberattack to hackers affiliated with Beijing.

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