To commemorate the Lunar New Year, China’s new foreign minister made a video appearance at a basketball game in Washington, amidst intensified attempts to keep tensions between global powers in check.
With a flurry of high-level discussions with officials from both sides, the icy relations between the world’s two largest economies have shown signs of thawing.
Qin Gang, who had previously served as Beijing’s ambassador to the United States, addressed tens of thousands of basketball fans at a National Basketball Association (NBA) game between the Washington Wizards and the Orlando Magic on Saturday.
In a 40-second video broadcast at the game’s intermission, Qin wished the Chinese and American peoples a prosperous Year of the Rabbit and a bright future.
Qin, who served as China’s ambassador to the United States for 17 months beginning in July 2021, trod a delicate line between supporting Beijing’s key interests and tempering the country’s robust diplomatic attitude.
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Qin shot free throws at a Wizards game, delivered the first pitch at a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game, and rode in a Tesla with billionaire Elon Musk during his year in Washington.
The outreach campaign precedes two important US official visits to Beijing.
Following “constructive” discussions with her Chinese counterpart on Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will soon fly to China, according to Washington, as the two countries attempt to strengthen ties and lessen tensions.
The first face-to-face meeting between Yellen and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, which took place in Zurich, was “frank, substantive, and constructive,” according to a statement from the US Treasury Department.
The previous day, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s long-awaited trip to Beijing on February 5-6 was confirmed.
He will be the first secretary of state to visit China since his Republican predecessor Mike Pompeo’s brief visit in October 2018, during which he criticized Beijing with venom.
China stated that it will attempt to “recalibrate” its relationship with the United States in December, following a meeting between President Xi Jinping and his American counterpart Joe Biden at the Group of 20 summit in Bali last year.