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US, China Dig in Despite Hopes for Thaw

The United States and China appear no closer to easing mounting tensions despite a recent flurry of diplomatic activity ahead of upcoming trips by high-profile U.S. officials to the Indo-Pacific region.

Instead, officials from both countries in recent days have spoken publicly of showing strength while also lamenting the lack of progress in a variety of talks.

“Deterrence today is real, and deterrence is strong,” Ely Ratner, U.S. assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, told lawmakers Thursday during a hearing focused on Washington’s China policy.

“The department is making historic progress toward a regional force posture that is more mobile, distributed, resilient and lethal,” Ratner said. “We have a U.S. military that is more capable, more distributed across the region, and more deeply integrated with our allies and partners.”

Speaking alongside Ratner, Daniel Kritenbrink, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told lawmakers efforts are underway to ensure that competition between Washington and Beijing does not boil over into conflict.

“Intense competition requires intense diplomacy,” he said. “We are committed to managing this competition responsibly and to maintaining open lines of communication with the PRC [Peoples Republic of China].”

Three senior U.S. officials have made trips to China in recent weeks, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and climate envoy John Kerry.

And while not an official U.S. visit, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is in Beijing this week, meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The 100-year-old Kissinger is revered in China for the role he played in opening relations between Washington and Beijing in the 1970s.

But according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Xi’s message for Kissinger was one of caution.

“China and the United States are once again at the crossroads of where to go,” Xi said. “The two sides need to make new decisions.”

Source : VOA News

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