WASHINGTON, July 6 (Reuters) - White House Indo-Pacific
coordinator Kurt Campbell said on Tuesday that it was possible
for China and United States to coexist in peace but the
challenge was enormous and Beijing had become increasingly
Campbell told the Asia Society think tank President Joe
Biden will host a summit later this year with the leaders of
Australia, India and Japan - the so-called "Quad" group
Washington sees as a means of standing up to China.
Asked when he expected a first meeting between Biden and
Chinese leader Xi Jinping and whether this could come at the G20
summit in October, he replied: "My expectation will be that
we'll have some sort of engagement before too long."
Campbell said the challenge for the United States would be
to come up with a strategy that presented China with
opportunities, but also a response if it takes steps
"antithetical to the maintenance of peace and stability".
There were likely to be "periods of uncertainty, perhaps
even periods of occasional raised tensions," he said.
"Do I think it's possible that the United States and China
can coexist and live in peace Yes I do. But I do think the
challenge is enormously difficult for this generation and the
next," he said.
Campbell said Beijing had been increasingly assertive in
recent times, taking on many countries simultaneously, a
strategy that contrasted with how it operated in the 1990s.
He criticized China's approach to U.S. ally Australia.
"I'm not sure they have the strategic thinking to go back to
a different kind of diplomacy towards Australia right now. I see
a harshness in their approach that appears unyielding."
China moved to restrict imports of several Australian
products after Canberra called last year for an independent
investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.
On Taiwan, the self-ruled U.S.-backed island China sees as
part of its territory and wants to reclaim, Campbell maintained
a cautious approach.
He said Washington supports a strong unofficial relationship
with the island and believes it should have an international
role and not be shunned by the international community, but
stressed that it does not support Taiwan's independence.
"We fully recognize, understand the sensitivities involved
here," he said, adding that maintaining peace and stability over
Taiwan was a "dangerous" balance.
However, Campbell said China should realize from the U.S.
and international response to its crackdown on democracy on Hong
Kong that such action towards Taiwan would be "catastrophic".
He said Washington hoped for some recognition from China
that the Indo-Pacific is big enough for two great powers, but
added: "some of what we've seen from President Xi and his
colleagues suggests that China's ambitions surpass that."
Washington also hoped for some sort of alignment with China
on issues like climate change, although that possibility over
the COVID-19 pandemic had already been "quite a disappointment,"
Asked about plans for trade engagement after the Trump
administration withdrew from a multi-national Pacific trade
pact, Campbell said the Biden administration's focus this year
had been on domestic recovery, vaccines, and engaging with
But he said it recognized he need for a "positive trade
agenda" with the Indo-Pacific as a whole going beyond whatever
trade engagement U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai
undertakes with China.
Campbell said this would probably involve "starting smaller,
starting something that we can clearly demonstrate affects and
supports small- and medium-sized firms in the United States,
working people," but did not elaborate.
(Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by
Angus MacSwan and Philippa Fletcher)