A day later, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, at another video conference, read from the same script. Setting aside the familiar ‘wolf warrior’ rhetoric, a conciliatory Wang repeated the call for a dialogue “putting all issues on table”. He admitted that bilateral relation is “facing the most severe challenge since establishment of diplomatic ties”, urged the US to set aside its “paranoia” and “suspicion” about China and sort issues of cooperation and competition into separate boxes so that overall ties remain stable.
Coordinated messaging from China’s top two diplomats in the space of a day isn’t a coincidence, rather an attempt to pare down the temperature and stop the ball rolling towards an all-out confrontation. It is obvious that China is worried about the trajectory of Sino-US relationship. Beijing wants to lessen the degree of hostility and increase engagement with Washington.