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By Jenni Marsh October 13, 2021

  •  Two sides have set up working group, Foreign Ministry says
  •  Officials have recently met on trade, military and security

China said it set up a group with the U.S. to discuss disputes, ahead of a video summit between President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping planned for later this year.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said in an interview with state broadcaster CGTN that the group had already “made some progress,” without specifying details. 

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“Dialogue and cooperation are indispensable and confrontation and conflict will lead us nowhere,” Le said. “We take seriously U.S. recent positive statements on China-U.S. relations,” he added.

In recent weeks, Washington and Beijing have been rebuilding communication lines cut off during years of clashes over everything from trade and Taiwan to tech and the origins of the coronavirus under the Trump administration. While China has sought to portray high-level communications with the Biden administration as the restoration of a “strategic dialogue,” the U.S. has disputed comparisons to an earlier process criticized in Washington as ineffective. 

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The thaw came after the U.S. released Huawei Technologies Co. Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou from extradition proceedings in Canada last month — one of several demands Chinese diplomats handed to visiting American envoys in July as a condition to break the logjam. The Chinese side subsequently freed two Canadians detained on spying charges in the wake of Meng’s December 2018 arrest, although both sides denied any link between the two actions. 

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Since then, top U.S. and Chinese officials have held in-person meetings on the military, trade and security. The video summit would be the first public one-on-one meeting between Biden and Xi, although a date has yet to be set. 

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday she had no new information to provide on the summit. “It’s just something that we’re working through and in discussions about at a staff level,” she said. 

Le said the high-level talks were evidence that China’s “door to dialogue is open” at any time. “In the meantime, the two sides need to work together to build a good atmosphere and create positive conditions for the two presidents to meet,” he added.