China presents US with further demands to improve relations at meeting between Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Secretary of State Antony Blinken

China has expanded its list of demands to the United States if it wants to improve relations as senior officials met on Saturday.

Both US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described their talks in Bali as "constructive", with Wang saying they had created conditions for further high-level exchanges.

However, he also accused the US of failing to fix their damaged ties after the Donald Trump era.

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"Sino-US relations are still not out of the predicament created by the previous US administration, and they are even facing more and more challenges," Wang said, according to the state news agency Xinhua.

He added that the US wrongly sees China as a threat, saying: "If this 'threat' theory is allowed to further develop, US policy towards China will be entering a dead end that it cannot exit".

Wang said China has presented Blinken four demands: remedial action for Washington to take; a list of Beijing's key concerns; US legislation it wants changing and eight areas where the two sides can cooperate.

Details of the list were not made available. China had already presented a list of its key concerns and remedial action it wanted in July last year, including a call for visa restrictions on Communist Party members to be lifted and for fairer treatment of Chinese citizens in the US.

The talks between Blinken and Wang on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in Bali lasted for five hours, including a lunch meeting.

Topics discussed included the ongoing Ukraine war, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the US presence in the Indo-Pacific region.

"Despite the complexities of our relationship, I can say with some confidence that our delegations found today's discussions useful, candid and constructive," Blinken told reporters after the talks.

"The US wants our communication channel with Beijing to continue to remain open."

In the talks, Wang accused the US of not honouring a commitment to improve China-US relations made during a virtual summit between Xi Jinping and Joe Biden in November.

Wang said the US is still building up its regional alliances to contain China, supporting moves towards Taiwanese independence, interfering with China's internal affairs through the guise of human rights and smearing China's political system.

The US has pledged to support Taiwan, but said it does not support unilateral change to the status quo.

"The US must not underestimate the firm determination of the Chinese people to defend territorial sovereignty, and must not make subversive mistakes that ruin peace across the Taiwan Strait," Wang said, according to Xinhua.

Blinken said the US has expressed concerns over "Beijing's increasingly provocative rhetoric and activities regarding Taiwan", Hong Kong, forced labour in Xinjiang and the treatment of ethnic groups in Tibet.

On Ukraine, Blinken said the US is concerned over China's alignment with Russia, adding that Beijing is not neutral in the crisis.

"I would start with the proposition that it's pretty hard to be neutral when it comes to this aggression. There's a clear aggressor. There's a clear victim," he said.

"But even if you accept that as a premise, I don't think that China is, in fact, engaging in a way that suggests neutrality. It supported Russia in the UN. It continues to do so. It's amplified Russian propaganda going back even as Russia was massing its forces."

Blinken said the US is not asking countries in the Indo-Pacific to pick sides but is "giving them a choice". He said he hoped China's own activities in the region would result in a "race to the top" that benefits everyone.

He also said the two nations can work on climate change, food security and global health, while Beijing said both sides had agreed to create better conditions for their consular and diplomatic officials.

"China and the US are two major countries, so it is necessary for the two countries to maintain normal exchanges," Wang told reporters ahead of the talks. "We do need to work together to ensure that this relationship will continue to move forward along the right track".

Diplomatic observers said despite the many differences, the meeting is paving the way for engagement between their top leaders.

"By deeming the talks useful and constructive, that means both sides are making progress," said Pang Zhongying, an international relations professor at Sichuan University. "And both nations recognised that deteriorating ties will do both harm".

Pang said it was possible Wang and Blinken had discussed arrangements for more high-level talks.

Liu Zhiqin, a senior fellow at Renmin University's Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, said talks between the two nations would continue.

The meeting in Bali included a lunch. Photo: AFP alt=The meeting in Bali included a lunch. Photo: AFP>

"Biden's administration will still be very tough on China economically, but he may be more flexible diplomatically," he said.

The differences between the two nations are "unlikely to hinder their exchanges," he said.

However, He Weiwen, another senior fellow at the institute, said: "Talks are only one aspect of bilateral exchanges ... but action needs to be taken too."

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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