Blinken, Wang tackle tough issues as possible Xi meet looms | Inquirer News

Blinken, Wang tackle tough issues as possible Xi meet looms

/ 04:01 PM June 19, 2023

Blinken and Wang

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, June 18, 2023. REUTERS

BEIJING — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed Taiwan and other thorny issues with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi in Beijing on the final day of a rare visit aimed at preventing friction between the rival powers from spiraling into conflict.

Making the first visit to China by a U.S. secretary of state in five years, Blinken talked with Wang for around three hours at Monday’s meeting at Diaoyutai state guest house in Beijing, according to State Department officials.


Describing the U.S.-China relationship as being at a low point, Wang said the root cause was the United States’ wrong perception of China.


“We must take a responsible attitude toward the people, history and the world, and reverse the downward spiral of U.S.-China relations,” Wang said during the meeting with Blinken, according to a statement released by China’s foreign ministry.

A day earlier, Blinken had met with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang for more than 7-1/2 hours. Washington described both sets of talks as “candid” and “constructive”.

All eyes will be on whether Blinken will also meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping later in the day, an engagement sources familiar with the matter said was expected but was yet to be confirmed by the State Department or Chinese officials.

Wang urged the United States to stop speculating on threats from China, abandon its “suppression” of China’s scientific and technological development, and refrain from interfering in its internal affairs, according to Chinese state media.

On the issue of Taiwan, the democratic island Beijing claims as it own, Wang said “China has no room for compromise or concessions”, according to the Chinese readout.

The United States has long stuck to 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, U.S. President Joe Biden said Washington would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, though aides later said his comments did not reflect a policy departure from the long-standing “One China” policy.

U.S. officials have underscored that the United States does not support Taiwan independence.

The talks between Blinken and Qin on Sunday had appeared to make little concrete progress on the wide ranging disputes, which included Taiwan, trade, human rights, stemming the flow of synthetic opioid fentanyl and its precursor chemicals from China, or on bridging their differing viewpoints regarding the war in Ukraine.

Blinken stressed “the need to reduce the risk of misperception and miscalculation” in his talks with Qin.

Both sides emphasized the importance of making it easier for their citizens to visit, and agreed on working to increase passenger flights, which boosted Chinese airline shares.

They also expressed a desire to stabilize bilateral ties despite what one U.S. official called their “profound” differences, and agreed that Qin would visit Washington to continue the conversation, though no date was announced.

“This is going to be a process of sustained diplomacy,” one senior State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said on Sunday.

Blinken’s trip, which was postponed in February after a suspected Chinese spy balloon flew over U.S. airspace, is closely followed worldwide as further deterioration of ties between the world’s two largest economies could have global implications on financial markets, trade practices and routes and supply chains.

While in Beijing, Blinken was also expected to meet with U.S. business people operating in the healthcare, automobile and entertainment industries to hear more on the business climate in China.

Taiwan ‘core interest’

The Chinese readout of Sunday’s meetings described them as constructive but made clear that Taiwan is the most important issue, and a potentially dangerous one.

“Qin Gang pointed out that the Taiwan issue is the core of China’s core interests, the most important issue in Sino-US relations, and the most prominent risk,” Chinese state media quoted Qin as having told the top U.S. diplomat.

Taiwan Premier Chen Chien-jen told reporters in central Taiwan: “For this high-level interaction between China and the United States, Taiwan closely grasps the relevant details.”

Especially alarming for China’s neighbors has been Beijing’s reluctance to engage in regular military-to-military talks with Washington.

U.S. officials have been playing down the prospect of a major breakthrough in talks, but they and analysts expect Blinken’s visit will pave the way for more bilateral meetings in coming months, including possible trips by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

It could also set the stage for talks between Xi and Biden at multilateral summits later in the year.

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Biden and Xi held long-awaited first face-to-face talks on the sidelines of a summit of the Group of 20 big economies in November on the Indonesian island of Bali, engaging in blunt talks over Taiwan and North Korea but also pledging more frequent communication, although ties since then have deteriorated.


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TAGS: Blinken, China, Diplomacy, Taiwan, USA

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