Xu Xueyuan, chargé d' affaires of the Chinese Embassy in the United States, speaks at a Chinese Lunar New Year reception on Tuesday at the embassy in Washington. (Photo by Zhao Huanxin/ China Daily)
To navigate China-U.S. relations safely and soundly, it's more important to set guidelines than build guardrails, and the two countries should work together to dial up dialogue and cooperation in 2023, a top Chinese envoy said at a Lunar New Year reception in Washington.
Over the past year, the Biden administration has honed a China policy that seeks to craft the guardrails for the world's most important bilateral relations to avoid conflict while maintaining intense competition.
For example, early last month, White House Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell said the dominant characteristic of the U.S.-China relationship will continue to be competition, but Washington wants to build the guardrails and foundation that will prevent the relationship moving into destabilizing places.
Xu Xueyuan, chargé d' affaires of the Chinese embassy in the U.S., offered a different perspective.
"For our relations to go steadily forward like a giant ship, our priority is not building 'guardrails' to prevent accidents, but setting 'guidelines' for safe navigation," Xu said Tuesday at the first in-person celebration of the Chinese New Year at the embassy over the past three years.
"These guidelines must contain basic elements such as no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. Only with the guidelines and only when they are followed can we ensure that there will be no loss of direction, no deviation, and no bumping into the 'guardrails'," she said.
The envoy noted that the first face-to-face meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden in Bali, Indonesia, on Nov 14 has charted the course for China-U.S. relations, as the two heads of state agreed to ramp up communication and exchanges, advance practical cooperation, and bring the relations back to the right track.
"In the new year, we look forward to working with people from various sectors in the U.S., to implement the important common understandings of the two presidents, reduce as many differences and frictions as possible, and build as much dialogue and cooperation as possible," Xu said.
She noted that since the onset of reengagement in the 1970s, China and the U.S. have realized that their countries are "hugely" different, but that has not kept people from building friendship, nor has it hindered the exchanges and cooperation between them over the past decades.
"Facing new circumstances, we still need to find the right way to get along in harmony. This is not optional, but a must," she said.
Also speaking at the reception, Kin Wah Moy, principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the State Department, said he agreed with Xu that though China and the United States have differences, those differences "make us unique and beautiful".
"When we have differences, they can mean something positive in the end, and that there can be hope," Moy said. "We will be working hard to make sure that the relationship is in the right place."
Nearly 800 guests from various sectors of the United States, including Laura Rosenberger, senior director for China affairs at the White House National Security Council, attended the reception, which was replete with performances of Chinese and U.S. artists and Chinese dishes featured in a "Chinese Gourmet Night".
Kyle Dillingham, founding member of Horseshoe Road, who was nicknamed "Oklahoma's musical ambassador", played Old Friends and The Girl from Dabancheng on violin, blending Chinese and Western music.