2024April 2024International News

Secretary of State Antony Blinken Meets with Chinese President Jinping

Madeline Field

Staff Writer

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and senior Chinese officials met in Beijing late last week with the goal of reaching diplomatic consensus on key issues.  

Blinken participated in almost six hours of meetings with China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, addressing bilateral issues to varying degrees of success. The Washington Post reports that conversations were focused on “slowly building trust that was leading to improvements” in some areas, such as military communications and limiting the export of precursors to fentanyl.Blinken also met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. They discussed Chinese manufacturing support for Russia, Taiwan and conflict in the South China Sea, human rights, artificial intelligence, and opioids, The Associated Press writes. The two leaders agreed to begin a dialogue on reducing risks from Artificial Intelligence. 

Blinken’s visit, his second in a year, is a positive signal for US-China dialogue. Al Jazeera reports that the relationship between the two superpowers has been marred in recent years by a number of factors, including the  the trade war of the Trump administration, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s 2022 visit to Taiwan, and the downing of a Chinese spy balloon in US territorial waters last year. In a press release by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Xi hailed the diplomatic progress made by the two rivals since his November 2023 visit to San Francisco for the APEC Summit, where he held talks with President Biden. The US and China celebrated 45 years of diplomatic ties earlier this year. 

Yet diplomatic consensus and assertions of shared responsibility and progress were largely overshadowed by thinly veiled criticism from both sides. In a joint press conference held before their meeting, Minister Yi communicated strong displeasure with US foreign policy in the region. In planned remarks, Yi stated that “negative factors in the relationship is [are] increasing and building… China’s legitimate development rights have been unreasonably suppressed and our core interests are facing challenges”. He added that the United States should “revoke the illegal sanctions on Chinese businesses,” cease “involvement and meddling” in the South China Sea, and “respect China’s sovereignty and the rule of law in Hong Kong”. 

Similarly, in a press availability before his departure, Blinken expressed frustration with China’s“unfair trade practices,” “dangerous actions in the South China Sea,” and “transnational repression” practices in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong. Talks on limiting China’s sale of machine tools, drone parts, and semiconductors to Russia did not progress, with Blinken alluding to economic sanctions should China fail to cooperate. 

The US has continued to hedge against growing Chinese power. The Associated Press reports that Blinken’s visit also coincided with the passage of a major foreign aid package that included $8 billion to provide security assistance to Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific forces. In early April, the White House welcomed leaders from the Philippines and Japan, China’s major competitors in the South China Sea, for a pioneering trilateral summit promoting economic security cooperation. These moves have frustrated Chinese leaders and fueled perceptions of encirclement.

Image courtesy of Getty Images

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