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‘Hopeful’ but ‘not optimistic’ about future of China relations, US diplomat says

U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns said Friday that while relations between the two countries have not necessarily improved, he remains “hopeful.”

Burns: “I'm not optimistic about the future of U.S.-China relations because I feel we need to wait and see how things develop.'' Said it at the event Sponsored by the Brookings Institution. “We had a good and fulfilling meeting in California. Can we maintain that engagement now? Can we fulfill our mutual commitments?”

“I've lived in the past. It's been a roller coaster of disconnections and then reconnections,” he added. “So I can't say I'm optimistic. I'm careful about this. Maybe I'm being realistic. I hope. But being hopeful is different from being optimistic. .”

His comments came a month after President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at the Friendship Summit in San Francisco. The forum was largely perceived as a positive encounter, even though the president called Xi a “dictator” shortly after the forum.

Part of the agreement between the two leaders included establishing military contacts, which were severed last year. The Hill previously reported that this is a high priority mission for Biden, who he believes is essential to avoiding a potentially disastrous accidental conflict.

Biden said Xi intends to keep the lines of communication open between the two leaders. The two countries also agreed to resume cooperation in the area of ​​counter-narcotics, as the United States urges China to crack down on export chemicals used in fentanyl.

“So far, China has fulfilled its commitments on fentanyl, and I think they will from a military-to-military context standpoint, but we'll see how that goes over time,” Burns said Friday. .

The diplomat also said he hoped the two countries could build a competitive relationship. But it must be done in a responsible manner that reduces the potential for conflict, he said.

“The Chinese people are not our enemy,” Burns said. “We want to live in peace with China. No sane person would want this relationship to descend into conflict or war.”

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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