Over the past year, the relationship between Beijing and Washington has vastly deteriorated. With hostility already mounting over the Pentagon’s naval patrols in the South China Sea, the US escalated the situation even further by accusing the Chinese government of being responsible for a major US data breach without providing any evidence for its claims.
The two countries clearly have their differences, but on the tenth anniversary of the US-China Working Group, Wu Xi, deputy chief of mission at the Chinese embassy in Washington, urged for calm discussion.
"Resorting to microphone diplomacy, or pointing fingers at each other, will not solve any problems," Wu said during a meeting on Capitol Hill.
Given that the US-China Working Group was founded to educate members of Congress on Sino-American relations, the reminder seemed especially appropriate.
"The right choice is to recognize our differences, respect each other and engage in real dialogue," she said. "The choice we make today will decide the future of our two great nations, as well as the entire world."
Wu went on to suggest that both sides take advantage of the upcoming US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue to "articulate the outcome and deliverables" for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s September trip to Washington.
Wu suggested that the US visit of a high-ranking Chinese military official this week could also be used to coordinate a discussion between the two leaders.
"We need to address our differences in a proper way," Wu told reporters.
Tensions first arose after China began building artificial islands in the South China Sea. A highly contested region through which nearly $5 trillion in trade passes each year, China lays claim to most of the region, but Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Indonesia, and Taiwan all assert overlapping claims.
The Chinese government insists it has every right to construct within its own territory, and that the islands are being built largely for humanitarian purposes.
Earlier this month, the US government uncovered a series of major cyberattacks into the Office of Personnel Management and the Interior Department. The breach resulted in the data theft of nearly 4 million federal workers. Without providing any evidence for its assertion, the White House was quick to pin the blame on Chinese hackers.
Beijing rejected these assertions as “irresponsible.”
"Not to carry out a deep investigation and keep using words such as 'possible' is irresponsible and unscientific," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said during a regular briefing.
Rational diplomacy may be the only way to peacefully solve these issues and mend a relationship between the two nations.
"We have no alternative but to succeed in the interests of our two nations and the world," Wu said.