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Test of Biden's commitment to improving ties: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2023-09-20 19:33
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Chinese and US flags flutter outside the building of an American company in Beijing. [Photo/Agencies]

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi concluded their "candid, substantive, and constructive discussions" in Malta on Sunday. The Joe Biden administration said they are "part of the ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication and responsibly manage the relationship".

But such efforts it seems are like a red rag to a bull for the China hawks in Washington.

Mike Gallagher, chair of the House of Representatives select committee on China, wrote to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday, goading the Biden administration to intensify the sanctions on China. He said that certain Chinese officials had not been sanctioned given their role in facilitating "genocide" and "human rights violations" in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

He also claimed that dozens of Xinjiang-linked companies had not been added to the US Entity List under the so-called Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act that would bar their imports.

The US Congress has passed a series of laws in recent years aimed at pressuring China over what the State Department says is the ongoing "genocide" of Uygurs and other largely Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang. And the US has sanctioned a handful of Chinese officials and entities linked to Xinjiang under various channels, including the Global Magnitsky Act and by executive order.

Now the committee head has singled out the so-called Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act passed in 2020 — which requires the US president to identify and sanction Chinese officials responsible for abuses — criticizing the Biden administration for not issuing any sanctions under the act. At the same time, the Uygur separatists and activists backed by the US also claimed that the Biden administration's Xinjiang-related actions were "inadequate" in relation to the scale of "atrocities committed".

It is clear those anti-China lawmakers and their proxies are alarmed by the upturn in Sino-US relations after the Biden administration realized that peaceful co-existence is in the interests of both sides.

The Biden administration is well aware that this round of Xinjiang hoopla is nothing but an integral part of the China hawks' propaganda war. Xinjiang has a robust economy and enjoys social stability, unity and prosperity. The US' exploitation of the fabricated claims of the Xinjiang separatists was initiated by the previous administration, which gathered a cast, including think tanks and media outlets, and other willing echoers on Washington's payroll to hype up the lies of the Uygur separatists.

Reportedly, it is the "Chinese spying balloon" incident that distracted the Biden administration's attention from the Xinjiang act. However, as Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the media late last week, before his retirement at the end of the month, the balloon wasn't spying at all. It was the China hawks that hyped it up to disturb the otherwise easing momentum of Sino-US ties.

After dealing with China with an iron hand in a velvet glove for so long, the Biden administration should know that it cannot coerce or bully Beijing, and that any attempts to do so will invariably hurt the US. It should cherish the positive momentum that has been generated, continue to keep the communications channels open, and avoid sending wrong signals at such critical juncture.

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