President Xi meets Blinken; Says agreement reached on ‘some specific issues’ with US

Beijing, Jun 19 (PTI) US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday met with Chinese President Xi Jinping who said that an agreement on “some specific issues” has been reached during the extensive talks between the top diplomats of the two countries amidst tense ties.

Blinken met Xi on the last day of his two-day high-stakes visit to Beijing during which the Chinese president spoke of the agreement without providing any details.

Xi said that China’s top diplomat and Director of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi and Foreign Minister Qin Gang described their talks with Blinken as candid and in-depth.

The Chinese side has made its position clear, and the two sides have agreed to “follow through with the common understanding US President Joe Biden and I had reached in Bali,” state-run CGTN quoted President Xi as saying.

“The two sides also made progress and reached an agreement on some specific issues,” Xi said, without providing details.

“State-to-state interactions should always be based on mutual respect and sincerity. I hope that Secretary Blinken, through this visit, could make a positive contribution to stabilising China-US relations,” he said.

Blinken’s visit to China was among the key outcomes of the Xi-Biden meeting in which they agreed to work on improving ties.

Earlier, Blinken met top diplomat Wang, who urged the US to “reflect deeply” and manage differences with China while attributing worsening ties to Washington’s “erroneous perception” of Beijing.

Wang told Blinken that his trip to Beijing came at a “critical juncture” in US-China ties and it was “necessary to make a choice between dialogue and confrontation, cooperation and conflict”.

“Sino-US relations have experienced ups and downs, and it is necessary for the US to reflect deeply and work with China to jointly manage differences and avoid strategic surprises,” he said.

“With an attitude of being responsible to the people, history and the world, we must reverse the downward spiral of Sino-US relations, push for a return to a healthy and stable track and work together to find a correct way for China and the United States to get along in the new era,” he said.

Wang also urged the US not to assume China was seeking dominance, and not to “misjudge” Beijing based on the trajectories of traditional Western powers.

“This is key as to whether the US policy towards China can truly return to objectivity and rationality,” Wang said, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

Wang, who is Xi’s top foreign policy adviser, also called for the US to lift unilateral sanctions against China, stop the suppression of China’s technological development, and not interfere in Beijing’s internal affairs.

On Taiwan, Wang stressed that safeguarding its national unity would always be at the core of China’s core interests and that there was “no room for compromise”.

China views Taiwan as a breakaway province. Beijing has not ruled out the possible use of force to reunify the self-ruled island with the mainland.

According to the Chinese statement on the meeting, Blinken shared Washington’s views with Wang, adding that the US looked forward to strengthening communication with China and managing differences responsibly.

Blinken is the highest-level US official to visit China since President Biden took office, and the first secretary of state to make the trip in five years. His visit is expected to usher in a new round of visits by senior US and Chinese officials, possibly including a meeting between Xi and Biden in the coming months.

His visit also comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Washington and his meeting with President Biden on June 22. Their talks are expected to include deepening defence cooperation and firming up the Quad alliance of the US, India, Australia and Japan, which China alleges is aimed at containing it.

Ahead of Blinken’s visit to Beijing, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the US expects a “transformational moment” in Indian ties during Modi’s visit to Washington and played down the secretary of state’s visit to Beijing.

“Secretary Blinken’s trip to China will be a significant event, but it’s likely not even the most significant event of next week when it comes to US foreign policy,” Sullivan told reporters in Tokyo on June 16.

Blinken’s visit was largely seen as an attempt to keep the communication channels open between Washington and Beijing so that bilateral relations can be responsibly managed.

Analysts say the visit signals a desire by both sides to restore engagement but cast doubt on the prospects of a breakthrough, the South China Morning Post reported.
Both sides are yet to comment on the talks.

Before leaving for Beijing on Saturday, Blinken said one of his goals was to set up open and empowered communications with Chinese officials.

He said he would also speak directly and candidly about (the US’) very real concerns on a range of issues.

The intense competition requires sustained diplomacy to ensure that competition does not veer into confrontation or conflict, he said.

Blinken is expected to establish a road map and timetable with the Chinese side on senior bilateral exchanges during the trip, Shanghai-based news site The Paper quoted Wu Xinbo, head of US studies at Fudan University, as saying.

Qin Feng, an academic committee member of Peking University’s Institute for Global Cooperation and Understanding, said Blinken’s visit was part of the preparation for President Xi’s trip to the United States in November, where he is expected to meet President Biden on the sidelines of the APEC summit.

In a way, the materialisation of Blinken’s Beijing trip is a success by itself. It marks progress in the preparation for the two nations’ leaders’ summit, which was delayed by the balloon incident. There is lots of catching up to do at the working level now, Qin Feng said.

On June 16, President Xi met Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates.

“I believe that the foundation of Sino-US relations lies in the people. Under the current world situation, we can carry out various activities that benefit our two countries, the people of our countries, and the entire human race,” he said after his meeting with Gates.

Biden told White House reporters Saturday he was hoping that over the next several months, he will meet with Xi again and talk about legitimate differences the two countries have and how to get along.

Chances for such a meeting may come at a Group of 20 leaders’ gathering in September in New Delhi and at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November in San Francisco that the United States is hosting.