- The first such meeting since 2018 is aimed at managing disputes
- Ji says that superpowers can overcome various difficulties
- Blinken appreciates ‘honest and constructive’ conversations
- A Xi-Biden summit could pave the way, the world is watching
BEIJING, June 19 (Reuters) – China and the United States agreed on Monday to deepen their fierce rivalry to avoid conflict, but U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced no major progress during a rare visit to Beijing.
Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed the “progress” after shaking hands with Blingen in the Great Hall of the People, a grand venue usually reserved for greeting heads of state.
Blinken, who holds the post of meeting the Chinese leader for the first time since 2018, told reporters he had raised contentious issues such as Taiwan, the democratic island Beijing claims as its own.
And while he said the two sides have made no progress in establishing regular military-to-military ties — a major concern for the wider world — he expects more senior U.S. officials to visit China in the coming weeks.
Their roughly 30-minute meeting was hoped to help facilitate a summit between Xi and US President Joe Biden later in the year.
Biden and Xi last met in November on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, vowing to stay in touch more often, though ties have soured over Taiwan, espionage allegations and other concerns.
“Both sides have made progress and reached agreement on some specific issues. This is very good,” Xi told Blinken across a long table decorated with pink lotus flowers.
Blinken responded that the two countries “have an obligation and a responsibility” to manage their relationship and that the United States is “committed to doing that.”
He added that his meetings in Beijing, including talks with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi and Foreign Minister Qin Gang, had been “frank and constructive”.
It was not immediately clear what progress he was referring to from Xi’s comments, although he said Blinken said China “hopes to see a good and stable China-US relationship” and that the two countries can “overcome various difficulties”. Spoken words.
He urged the United States not to “hurt China’s legitimate rights and interests,” signaling potential flashpoints such as Taiwan.
The Taiwan Core Issue
The lack of regular and open communication channels between the world’s top two economies has sent jitters around the world, and Beijing’s reluctance to engage in regular military-to-military talks with Washington has worried China’s neighbors.
But analysts said Xi’s comments and the diplomatic choreography of the visit signaled a desire for progress.
“The message from China is very positive,” said Wu Xinbo, a professor and director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai.
“China has shown that it still believes in working with the US to stabilize and improve relations. Although China is not optimistic about Sino-US relations, I think it has not given up hope.”
Earlier on Monday, Blinken underscored the importance of open communication channels during more than three hours of talks with Wang, which the State Department called “productive.”
Describing the US-China relationship as being at a low point, Wang said the root cause is America’s wrong perception of China.
“We must take a responsible approach to people, history and the world, and reverse the downward spiral of US-China relations,” Wang said during the meeting with Blinken, in a statement released by China’s Foreign Ministry.
Blinken’s trip was postponed in February after a suspected Chinese spy balloon flew over US airspace and has been closely watched around the world as a further deterioration in relations could have global implications for financial markets, trade practices and routes and supply chains.
Beijing’s tone on Taiwan was particularly pointed throughout Blingen’s visit. “There is no room for compromise or concessions with China,” Wang said, according to a Chinese reading report.
The US has long adhered to a policy of “strategic ambiguity” over whether to respond militarily to an attack on Taiwan, which Beijing has refused to rule out.
When US President Joe Biden was asked last year, he said Washington would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, although aides later said his comments did not reflect a policy departure from the longstanding “one China” policy.
US officials have underlined that the US does not support Taiwan independence.
U.S. officials are downplaying the prospect of a major breakthrough in the talks, but they and analysts expect Blinken’s visit to pave the way for more bilateral meetings in the coming months, including possible trips by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
Humeyra Pamuk reports in Beijing; Additional reporting by Jason Xue in Shanghai, Sophie Yu, Yew Lun Tian, Dominique Patton, Joe Cash in Beijing, Jeanny Kao and Ben Blanchard in Taipei; By Humeyra Pamuk and John Geddie; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Andrew Heavens
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Humeyra Pamuk is a senior foreign policy correspondent in Washington, DC. He covers the US State Department and travels regularly with the US Secretary of State. During his 20 years with Reuters, he held posts in London, Dubai, Cairo and Turkey, covering everything from the Arab Spring and Syria’s civil war to multiple Turkish elections and the Kurdish insurgency in the southeast. In 2017, he won the Knight-Backhatt Fellowship Program at Columbia University’s School of Journalism. He holds a BA in International Relations and an MA in European Union Studies.