On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, attended a roughly 35-minute meeting with Communist China’s Xi Jinping, where the two leaders discussed a range of topics but failed to reestablish regular military-to-military communications, a source of angst within the Biden Administration and among China’s neighbors.
The two met in the Great Hall of the People, a venue usually reserved for greeting heads of state, where they shook hands. Xi hailed the meeting as “progress.”
Blinken, the first American secretary of state to meet with the Chinese leader since 2018, said he raised several issues with the communist leader including the contentious issue of Taiwan.
Blinken said he expects other American political leaders to visit Beijing in the coming months telling reporters, “It is absolutely vital that we have these kinds of communications. This is something we’re going to keep working on.”
American authorities have said that since 2021, China had either declined or failed to respond to over a dozen requests for top-level dialogues with the Department of Defense.
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There’s hope that Blinken’s visit will lay the groundwork to help facilitate a summit between U.S. president Joe Biden and Xi Jinping later this year.
The last time the two met was last November on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia where Biden pledged to hold more frequent talks with China, however since then relations between the two largest economies in the world have deteriorated, largely due to issues involving Taiwan and accusations of espionage by the communist state.
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At the meeting Xi told Blinken that “The two sides have also made progress and reached the agreement on some specific issues. This is very good.”
It remains unclear exactly what progress Xi was referring to, however he told Blinken that he “hopes to see a sound and steady China-U.S. relationship” and that the two countries “can overcome various difficulties,” a Chinese readout of the talks read.
The meeting between Xi and Blinken was arranged at a moment’s notice, with an announcement of the meeting being issued just one hour prior to the talks.
Blinken said that “the United States and China have an obligation and responsibility to manage our relationship.”
Prior to his meeting with Xi, Blinken met with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi for more than three hours after which Wang said that a source of souring relations between the two countries was the U.S.’s wrong perception of China.
According to a statement, released by China’s Foreign Ministry, Wang said, “We must take a responsible attitude toward the people, history and the world, and reverse the downward spiral of U.S.-China relations.”
On the issue of Taiwan, Wang said that “China has no room for compromise or concessions,” according to the readout.
Blinken had originally planned to visit Beijing last February, however his trip was postponed following the discovery of a suspected Chinese spy balloon which traversed the continental United States before being shot down by the American military over the Atlantic Ocean.
In meetings on Sunday, Blinken reportedly pressed the Chinese to release detained American citizens in China and to take steps to curb the production and export of fentanyl precursors to the United States.