Visit with tensions US Secretary of State Blinken begins talks in China, meeting with Chinese counterpart Qin. The current mood between the two countries is very tense.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has met with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang in Beijing for talks. It is the first visit by a US Secretary of State to China in five years – and a first step after serious diplomatic tensions between China and the US.
No long list of results is expected for the visit, the US State Department said ahead of the trip. Blinken stressed that it was about advocating for communication channels between the two countries. Accordingly, intense competition between China and the US should not lead to confrontation or conflict, he said.
Speculation about meeting with Xi
Blinken is expected to stay on site until Monday, with further meetings planned with high-ranking Chinese government officials, according to various news agencies. A meeting with President and Party Leader Xi Jinping could also be possible.
US President Joe Biden also signaled a willingness to dialogue at the highest level shortly before Blinken's arrival in China. "I hope that in the coming months I will meet with Xi again and talk about our legitimate differences, but also about how we can understand each other in certain areas," Biden said.
Dialogue with conditions
Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said ahead of Blinken's visit that China's door to dialogue was always open. However, with conditions: "I would like to emphasize again that the US should not imagine negotiating with China on the basis of its power position," said Wang.
"China and the US must develop their relationship on the basis of mutual respect and equality, respect the differences in their historical, cultural, and social development paths, and take care of each other's core interests and major concerns."
Numerous contentious issues
The relationship between the world's two largest economies is more strained than ever. There are numerous contentious issues, including human rights questions, China's threats against the democratically governed island of Taiwan, mutual espionage allegations, and access to future technology.
For example, China accuses the US of trying to keep the People's Republic economically small through sanctions and interfering in Taiwan's internal affairs. The People's Republic sees the island state as part of its own territory and threatens Taiwan with military force time and again.
Mutual espionage allegations
Wang Huiyao, founder and chairman of the Chinese think tank Center for China and Globalization CCG, understands the narrative of the Chinese state and party leadership. "There shouldn't be so many high-level visits by the US to Taiwan," he said. "Even Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last year when she was speaker of the US House of Representatives and endangered the status quo." That really makes things difficult. "There is so much foreign influence on the issue. That really draws a lot of attention to the Taiwan Strait, the strait between China and the island of Taiwan." China must react – and then there are military exercises.
Recently, mutual espionage allegations have reignited tensions between China and the US. Blinken had actually wanted to travel to China in February. However, he canceled the visit at short notice in a dispute over the overflight of a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the US.