BEIJING/WASHINGTON -- The U.S. must lift sanctions on the likes of Huawei Technologies and halt other actions targeting Beijing, Chinese officials demanded Monday when meeting with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in Tianjin.
Sherman spoke with Foreign Minister Wang Yi after meeting with Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng.
Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, told reporters that a list put forward by Beijing urged Washington to "unconditionally revoke visa restrictions on members of the Communist Party of China and their family members, stop suppressing Chinese companies, stop harassing Chinese students overseas, stop attacking the Confucius Institute, remove the registration of Chinese media as foreign agents or foreign missions, and drop the extradition of [Huawei Chief Financial Officer] Meng Wanzhou and so on."
Sherman expressed to Wang concerns about "human rights, including Beijing's anti-democratic crackdown in Hong Kong; the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang; abuses in Tibet; and the curtailing of media access and freedom of the press," according to a State Department readout. "She also spoke about our concerns about Beijing's conduct in cyberspace; across the Taiwan Strait; and in the East and South China seas."
Sherman pointed out China's unwillingness to cooperate with the World Health Organization and allow a second-phase investigation on its soil into the origins of COVID-19, the readout said.
Xie told Sherman that the bilateral relationship is in stalemate and faces serious difficulties because some Americans paint China as an "imagined enemy," the Chinese foreign ministry said.
With the White House set to release a report on the roots of the coronavirus pandemic by the end of August, the Chinese leadership sees the current tensions as unlikely to dissipate anytime soon.
Beijing strongly disputes calls in the international community to hold China responsible for the pandemic. The coronavirus was initially detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
But, expecting a new round of finger-pointing when the report is released, Beijing chose not to seek a conciliatory tone in these meetings with Sherman.
Market access to China is another bone of contention. Sherman on Sunday tweeted an image of her holding an online discussion with members of the U.S. business community about the challenges they face in the Chinese market. "The Biden-Harris administration is pushing for a level playing field for American companies in China," she wrote.
And while there is talk of a first face-to-face meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Italy in October, the Chinese side maintains a cautious stance on agreeing to such talks.
China does not, however, want to see bilateral ties deteriorate further. Frustration is running high among Communist Party elites over the prolonged diplomatic standoff, which has affected business activities and opportunities to send their children to the U.S. to study.