September 30, 2023

BEIJING (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Chinese language President Xi Jinping on Monday, as the highest U.S. diplomat wrapped up a high-stakes two-day go to to Beijing aimed toward easing hovering tensions between the international locations.

The 35-minute assembly on the Nice Corridor of the Individuals had been anticipated and was seen as key to the success of the journey, however neither aspect confirmed it might occur till a State Division official introduced it simply an hour beforehand.

In footage of the assembly launched by state broadcaster CCTV, Xi is heard to say “The 2 sides have agreed to comply with by on the frequent understandings President Biden and I’ve reached in Bali.”

In earlier conferences between Blinken and senior Chinese language officers, the 2 sides expressed willingness to speak however confirmed little inclination to bend from hardened positions on disagreements starting from commerce, to Taiwan, to human rights circumstances in China and Hong Kong, to Chinese language navy assertiveness within the South China Sea, to Russia’s struggle in Ukraine.

Xi mentioned that that they had made progress and reached agreements on “some particular points” with out elaborating. “This is superb,” Xi mentioned.

“I hope that by this go to, Mr. Secretary, you’ll make extra optimistic contributions to stabilizing China-US relation,” Xi added.

Regardless of Blinken’s presence in China, he and different U.S. officers had performed down the prospects for any vital breakthroughs on probably the most vexing points dealing with the planet’s two largest economies.

As an alternative, these officers have emphasised the significance of the 2 international locations establishing and sustaining higher traces of communication.

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Blinken is the highest-level U.S. official to go to China since President Joe Biden took workplace, and the primary secretary of state to make the journey in 5 years. His go to is anticipated to usher in a brand new spherical of visits by senior U.S. and Chinese language officers, presumably together with a gathering between Xi and Biden within the coming months.

Blinken met earlier Monday with China’s prime diplomat Wang Yi for about three hours, in line with a U.S. official.

China’s Ministry of International Affairs wrote in a press release that Blinken’s go to “coincides with a important juncture in China-U.S. relations, and it’s essential to choose between dialogue or confrontation, cooperation or battle,” and blamed the “U.S. aspect’s inaccurate notion of China, resulting in incorrect insurance policies in direction of China” for the present “low level” in relations.

It mentioned the U.S. had a accountability to halt “the spiraling decline of China-U.S. relations to push it again to a wholesome and secure observe” and that Wang had “demanded that the U.S. cease hyping up the ‘China menace idea’, elevate unlawful unilateral sanctions in opposition to China, abandon suppression of China’s technological improvement, and chorus from arbitrary interference in China’s inner affairs.”

The State Division mentioned Blinken “underscored the significance of responsibly managing the competitors between the US and the PRC by open channels of communication to make sure competitors doesn’t veer into battle.”

Within the first spherical of talks on Sunday, Blinken met for almost six hours with Chinese language International Minister Qin Gang after which each international locations mentioned that they had agreed to proceed high-level discussions. Nevertheless, there was no signal that any of probably the most fractious points between them had been nearer to decision.

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Each the U.S. and China mentioned Qin had accepted an invite from Blinken to go to Washington however Beijing made clear that “the China-U.S. relationship is on the lowest level since its institution.” That sentiment is broadly shared by U.S. officers.

Blinken’s go to comes after his preliminary plans to journey to China had been postponed in February after the shootdown of a Chinese language surveillance balloon over the U.S.

A snub by the Chinese language chief would have been a significant setback to the hassle to revive and preserve communications at senior ranges.

Biden and Xi had made commitments to enhance communications “exactly in order that we are able to ensure we’re speaking as clearly as doable to keep away from doable misunderstandings and miscommunications,” Blinken mentioned earlier than leaving for Beijing.

And Biden mentioned over the weekend that he hoped to have the ability to meet with Xi within the coming months to take up the plethora of variations that divide them.

In his conferences on Sunday, Blinken additionally pressed the Chinese language to launch detained Americans and to take steps to curb the manufacturing and export of fentanyl precursors which are fueling the opioid disaster in the US.

Xi supplied a touch of a doable willingness to scale back tensions on Friday, saying in a gathering with Microsoft Corp. co-founder Invoice Gates that the US and China can cooperate to “profit our two international locations.”

Because the cancellation of Blinken’s journey in February, there have been some high-level engagements. CIA chief William Burns traveled to China in Could, whereas China’s commerce minister traveled to the U.S. And Biden’s nationwide safety adviser Jake Sullivan met with senior Chinese language overseas coverage adviser Wang Yi in Vienna in Could.

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However these have been punctuated by bursts of indignant rhetoric from each international locations over the Taiwan Strait, their broader intentions within the Indo-Pacific, China’s refusal to sentence Russia for its struggle in opposition to Ukraine, and U.S. allegations from Washington that Beijing is making an attempt to spice up its worldwide surveillance capabilities, together with in Cuba.

And, earlier this month, China’s protection minister rebuffed a request from U.S. Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin for a gathering on the sidelines of a safety symposium in Singapore, an indication of constant discontent.