Blinken meets Xi, stresses 'need to stabilize' US-China ties

Announced at the last minute, Washington's top diplomat met China's head of state in Beijing for what President Xi Jinping described as "candid" discussions.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (right) and Chinese President Xi Jingping  at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday, June 19. (photo: Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (right) and Chinese President Xi Jingping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday, June 19. (photo: Getty Images)


Chinese President Xi Jinping hosted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Beijing on Monday, the culmination of two days of high-level talks with Chinese officials.

The trip by Blinken marks the highest-level visit by a US official to China in nearly five years, at a time when relations between the world's two largest economies have entered choppy waters.

What did Blinken say?

Washington's top diplomat emphasized the importance of face to face dialogue.

"In every meeting, I stressed that direct engagement and sustained communication at senior levels is the best way to responsibly manage differences and ensure that competition does not veer into conflict," Blinken told reporters as the talks concluded. "I heard the same from my Chinese counterparts. We both agree on the need to stabilize our relationship."

The US secretary of state said that Beijing had reiterated that it would not send weaponry to Russia to aid its invasion of Ukraine, although he voiced concern at the actions of private Chinese firms.

"We, and other countries, have received assurances from China that it is not and will not provide lethal assistance to Russia for use in Ukraine," Blinken said.

Washington's top diplomat also insisted that US President Joe Biden was not trying to economically stifle China through its sweeping ban on exports of high-end semiconductors, merely that Washington was trying to protect itself.

"We want to see growth. We want to see success in every part of the world, including, of course, in the major economies like China," Blinken said. "But at the same time, it's not in our interest to provide technology to China that could be used against us."

"And at a time when it's engaged in a build-up of its nuclear weapons program in a very opaque way, when it's producing hypersonic missiles, when it's using technology for repressive purposes, how is it in our interest to provide those specific technologies to China?"

What did Xi say?

"The two sides have had candid and in-depth discussions," Xi said at the start of the meeting in comments broadcast on Chinese state television.

"I hope that through this visit, Mr. Secretary, you will make more positive contributions to stabilizing China-US relations," Xi added, addressing Blinken.

"State-to-state interaction should always be based on mutual respect and sincerity," Xi said.

A Blinken-Xi meeting had been on the cards, but neither side had confirmed it would happen until about an hour before the talks. Blinken's discussion with the Chinese leader was seen as key to the success of the trip.

A snub here would have been a setback to the effort to restore talks at senior levels.

Meanwhile, Germany's president on Monday underlined the "special importance" of relations between the US and China, as he hosted Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang for talks in Berlin.

'No room for compromise' on Taiwan

Blinken had earlier held talks with China's top diplomat Wang Yi in Beijing on Monday at a meeting that lasted for around three hours.

Wang, whose position in the Communist Party ranks above the foreign minister, told Blinken that there is "no room for compromise" and concessions on the Taiwan issue, state media reported. He emphasized that maintaining national unity will always be at the core of China's interests.

"The United States must truly adhere to the One China principle confirmed in the three joint US-China communiques, respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and clearly oppose 'Taiwan independence'," state media reported him saying.

"It is necessary to make a choice between dialogue and confrontation, cooperation or conflict," Wang said.

Tense relations

Blinken was originally due to visit China in February, but the trip was postponed after the US shot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon flying over the country.

Meanwhile, tensions have continued to rise over Taiwan, the South China Sea and Russia's war in Ukraine. The US and China have also stepped up their rivalry in the global semiconductor industry.

Blinken on Sunday met Foreign Minister Qin Gang for seven and a half hours, with both sides agreeing to keep communication lines open to avoid an all-out conflict.

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