Chinese President Xi Jinping and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Beijing – Photo: Xinhua/Wang Ye

Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed “progress” in talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Beijing on Monday.

The trip is closely watched with the aim of ensuring that superpower disputes do not escalate into conflict.
Blinken, the first holder of his post to meet the Chinese leader since 2018, walked towards Xi with his hand outstretched in the Great Hall of the People, a venue China often uses for heads of state – positive signs in the choreography of the diplomacy.

The two shook hands, then the delegations faced each other across a conference table festooned with pink lotus flowers, with Xi at the head and Blinken.

The approximately 30-minute meeting could help facilitate a summit between Xi and US President Joe Biden later in the year.

Biden and Xi last met on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, in November, pledging more frequent dialogue, though ties have since deteriorated on issues ranging from Taiwan to spying allegations.

“Both sides agreed to follow the common understandings that President Biden and I reached in Bali. The two sides also made progress and reached agreement on some specific issues. This is very good,” Xi told Blinken at the start of the meeting.

Blinken responded by saying the two countries “have an obligation and responsibility” to manage their relationship and that the United States is “committed to doing so.”

Meetings in Beijing, including talks with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi and Foreign Minister Qin Gang, were “sincere and constructive”, he added.

According to Chinese media, Xi told Blinken at the closed-door talks that China “looks forward to seeing a solid and stable China-US relationship” and believes the two countries “can overcome various difficulties”.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meet in Beijing – Photo: Xinhua/Wang Ye

But he also urged the US not to “harm China’s legitimate rights and interests”, a sign of possible flashpoints like Taiwan, the democratic island that Beijing claims as its own, which have come to light during previous Blinken meetings.
“The messages from China have been very positive,” said Wu Xinbo, professor and director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai.

“China has shown that it still looks forward to working with the US to stabilize and improve relations. I think that while China is not optimistic about Sino-US relations, it has not lost hope either.”

Earlier on Monday, Blinken highlighted the importance of open communication channels in managing his competition during more than three hours of conversations with Wang that the State Department called “productive”.
Describing the US-China relationship as being at a low point, Wang said the root cause is the US’s misperception of China.

“We must take a responsible attitude towards people, history and the world, and reverse the downward spiral of US-China relations,” Wang said during the meeting with Blinken, according to a statement released by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. .

Blinken’s trip, which was postponed in February after an alleged Chinese spy balloon flew over US airspace, is closely watched around the world as further deterioration in ties could have global implications for financial markets, practices and trade routes and supply chains.

Beijing’s tone towards Taiwan was particularly pronounced during Blinken’s visit. Wang said that “China has no room for compromises or concessions,” according to the Chinese reading.

The United States has long maintained a policy of “strategic ambiguity” over whether it would respond militarily to an attack on Taiwan, which Beijing has refused to rule out.

When asked last year, US President Joe Biden said Washington would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, although aides later said his comments did not reflect a departure from the long-standing “one China” policy.

US officials stressed that the United States does not support Taiwan’s independence.

With information from Reuters

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