After months of arguments and mutual accusations, the great powers USA and China are again in direct dialogue with each other. The interim balance of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s talks in Beijing is mixed.
China-US relations are at their lowest point since diplomatic relations were established. But this is not in the interest of the people in both countries. China wants “stable, predictable and constructive” relations and hopes the US will “work in the same direction,” Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang said at a meeting with Blinken in Beijing, according to state broadcaster CCTV. Blinken is the first US Secretary of State to visit China in five years.
The Taiwan issue – a key issue for China
The state of relations between the states does not meet either “the fundamental interests of the two peoples” or the “expectations of the international community,” Qin told Blinken. The dispute over Taiwan poses the “biggest risk.” The Taiwan issue goes to the core of China’s interests, Qin said, according to CCTV.
The fate of Taiwan is currently one of the major contentious issues between the West and China. Since the split between China and Taiwan in 1949, Beijing has viewed the island as a breakaway territory that it wants to reunite with the mainland – if necessary using military force. Most recently, Beijing had massively increased the threats against the leadership in Taipei.
US delegation more optimistic
For its part, the US delegation spoke of “open, constructive and honest” talks between the two ministers after the meeting. Blinken invited Qin to pay a return visit to Washington, which he accepted, a foreign ministry spokesman said. Blinken therefore emphasized the “importance of diplomacy and maintaining open channels of communication on the full range of issues to reduce the risk of misperceptions and miscalculations”.
Qin and Blinken, who are said to have spoken to each other for several hours on Sunday, have not yet publicly expressed themselves. Further meetings with senior Chinese government officials are planned for Monday. There is also speculation that Blinken could meet with head of state and party leader Xi Jinping. So far, there has been no confirmation from Beijing. Blinken also wants to comment on the course of the visit at a press conference on Monday.
The relationship between the two largest economies is strained not only by Beijing’s threats against Taiwan, but also by China’s support for Russia’s war in Ukraine and the ongoing trade dispute between the two countries. The government of US President Joe Biden sees China as the greatest geopolitical challenge and is taking a hard line. China, in turn, accuses the United States of hegemonic ambitions.
With the visit to Beijing, Biden’s top diplomat is making up for a trip that was originally supposed to take place in February – but was then canceled at short notice due to allegations of espionage against China. The US hopes Blinken’s visit will pave the way for more top-level bilateral meetings, up to and including Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping meeting at international summits in the second half of the year.
qu/wa (afp, dpa, rtr)