Blinken meets Xi Jinping to ease tensions in China

Blinken’s encounters with Xi and others were to address a number of contentious issues, including trade, Taiwan, human rights, Chinese military aggression in the South China Sea and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Blinken earlier met with Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat, and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang.

State Department officials said the two countries are unlikely to achieve breakthroughs on Blinken’s trip, which was originally scheduled for February but was postponed after a suspected Chinese spy balloon was found over the American territory.

China, while stressing the importance of resuming high-level communication, also expressed less enthusiasm ahead of Blinken’s visit this week than before the postponement of the previous trip.

But it could set the stage for a meeting later this year between Biden and Xi, who last met in Indonesia last November on the sidelines of a Group of 20 major economies summit.

Biden told reporters on Saturday he hoped to meet with Xi in the coming months to discuss “legitimate differences that we have, but also how there are areas where we can get along.”

After arriving on Sunday, Blinken met with Qin, China’s foreign minister, for talks that both sides described as “frank” and “constructive.” Those talks lasted nearly six hours, followed by a two-hour working dinner, according to senior State Department officials.

The two countries said Qin, who previously served as China’s ambassador to the United States, had accepted an invitation from Blinken to visit the United States at a mutually convenient time.

Blinken China Xi Jinping
Blinken’s meeting with Xi capped two days of talks with senior Chinese officials. Lea Millis / AFP – Getty Images

Blinken then had a three-hour meeting on Monday with Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat, who appeared to be a bit more agitated.

Wang blamed the United States’ “misperception” of China for poor relations between the two countries and said Washington had to make a choice “between dialogue and confrontation, and cooperation and conflict”.

He said it was important to reverse the “downward spiral” in the relationship, get it back on a healthy and stable path and “jointly explore the right way for China and the United States to get along in the new era”.

Wang demanded that the United States lift sanctions against Chinese entities and stop suppressing China’s technological development, a reference to US export controls on semiconductor technology. He also underscored China’s position on Taiwan, a self-governing democracy that Beijing claims as its territory and whose status is one of the biggest flashpoints in US-China relations.

China has accused the United States, Taiwan’s largest international backer, of promoting Taiwan independence through formal exchanges between the island’s president and senior US officials such as the former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her successor, Kevin McCarthy. The Biden administration denies that US policy toward Taiwan has changed.

On the Taiwan issue, “China has no room for compromise or concession,” the statement said.

Blinken “stressed the importance of responsible management of competition between the United States and [China] through open channels of communication to ensure competition does not escalate into conflict,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

The Secretary also “reiterated that the United States will continue to use diplomacy to raise issues of concern and uphold the interests and values ​​of the American people.”

Evelyn Cheng, CNBC, Murphy Zhao And Abigail Williams contributed.

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