China respects US interests and is not trying to challenge or hurt the United States, President Xi Jinping said after meeting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Beijing. He believes that the two big countries can overcome many of their problems. A stable connection between the USA and China is also important for the rest of the world. Xi said he hopes for a healthy and firm relationship with the US. Nevertheless, the US is called upon to adopt a “rational and pragmatic” attitude and to work “in the same direction” as China. Neither side should try to shape the other according to their will. State TV showed a video in which Xi said the two sides had “reached an agreement on some specific issues. That’s very good.”
Blinken said after the meeting that both countries agreed that their relations needed to be stabilized. The United States is aware of the challenges facing China. He emphasized that direct dealings and ongoing communication are the best way “to deal responsibly with differences and to ensure that competition does not turn off in conflict”. However, China has continued to refuse to set up channels for crisis communication and military contacts, which he has repeatedly warned of during his talks.
At the end of the visit, the minister stressed that China was playing a constructive role in the peace efforts in Ukraine. At the meeting, he also expressed concern about China’s “provocative” actions in the Taiwan Strait. The US would also continue to take targeted action to protect its national interests. Blinken had already drawn a positive interim conclusion from his trip on Sunday and his ministry spoke of an “open, substantial and constructive” exchange.
The surprising meeting in Beijing is unusual in terms of protocol. It can be understood as a special gesture towards the USA. The meeting had only recently been officially included in the visit calendar and was Blinken’s last appointment in Beijing. Blinken approached Xi with his hand outstretched in the Great Hall of the People, which the Chinese leadership often uses to greet heads of state – a positive signal in the choreography of diplomacy. Both delegations then faced each other at a long conference table.
The first visit by a US Secretary of State since 2018 comes amid deep differences between the world’s two largest economies. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Blinken’s visit marked a “new beginning”. Foreign Minister Qin Gang will travel to the United States for a return visit at Blinken’s invitation.
Blinken highest-ranking US politician in China since Biden took office
Blinken had previously held extensive talks with China’s top foreign policy leader, Wang Yi. In the hierarchy of power, he is above Secretary of State Qin Gang, with whom the US Secretary of State held a seven-and-a-half-hour conference on Sunday. After a long radio silence, both sides resumed direct high-level dialogue with the meetings. Official statements from both sides largely unanimously described the talks as frank, deep and constructive.
Blinken is the highest-ranking visitor from the US since US President Joe Biden took office in January 2021. Both sides are at odds over trade issues, Chinese backing for Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and its threats to the democratic island republic of Taiwan.
During his meeting with the US Secretary of State, Chinese leader Wang Yi did not mince his words. He accused the US of having a “misperception” of his country, which in turn leads to “wrong policies” towards the People’s Republic. Blinken’s visit comes at a critical time: “It is necessary to choose between dialogue or confrontation, cooperation or conflict.”
The US Secretary of State had already wanted to come in February. He canceled at short notice because of a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the United States. Wang Yi urged the US to stop hyping the “Chinese threat theory.” They must also lift “illegal unilateral sanctions” and end his country’s “suppression of technological development.”
Wang: No room for compromise on the Taiwan issue
Furthermore, the US should no longer be allowed to interfere in China’s internal affairs. The former foreign minister emphasized that there was “no room for compromises” for China, particularly on the Taiwan question. The US must remain faithful to the One China principle, honor its commitments to Beijing, respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and firmly oppose Taiwan independence. He is referring to US support for the island. As early as 1979, the USA committed itself to Taiwan’s ability to defend itself, which up until now has mostly meant arms deliveries.
However, China regards the democratic island republic as part of the People’s Republic and is threatening to conquer it. One China policy is commonly understood to mean that Beijing is recognized as the only legitimate government. Taiwan, on the other hand, has had an independent government for more than seven decades and has long since given up the claim of wanting to represent all of China. For its part, Beijing is trying to isolate Taiwan internationally with the one-China principle.
kle/nob/sti/cwo (afp, dpa, rtr)