Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets Chinese President Xi Jinping amid rising US-China tensions

Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets Chinese President Xi Jinping | ltc-a

Blinken thanked Xi for hosting him and spoke of the « obligation and responsibility » that the two countries have in managing tensions between them.

That relationship is « one of the most consequential in the world, » he said during a press conference before concluding his trip.

« Here in Beijing, I have had important conversations with President Xi and have added substantive and constructive discussions with my counterparts, » Blinken said.

The roughly 35-minute meeting with Xi in the Great Hall of the People was seen as a critical sign to the success of the trip, though it was not confirmed beforehand. After Xi met with Microsoft founder Bill Gates earlier this month, the failure to organize a Xi-Blinken meeting may have been a deliberate snub by Chinese authorities.

« If Xi had refused to meet with Blinken, it would have signaled that the Chinese leader was abandoning the diplomatic exchange process he agreed with Biden last fall, » said Jacob Stokes, senior researcher for Indo-Pacific affairs at the Center for to New American Security. « So, the fact that it happened probably means more than the results. »

During his meetings, Blinken said, he touched on several topics including tensions over Taiwan, North Korean aggression, trade, human rights, the war in Ukraine and wrongfully detained US citizens. He also spoke to Chinese leaders about areas where the two powerful countries share a mutual interest, including the climate, macroeconomic stability, public health and food security.

State Department officials did not expect countries to achieve a breakthrough on any of the issues on which they are most divided. The administration described Blinken’s trip as part of a long-term effort to cool bilateral grievances that effectively froze high-level diplomatic dialogue for nearly five months.

While the trip is a sign of easing tensions, Blinken noted that the two countries were still deeply divided.

“Progress is difficult. It takes time and [it’s] not the product of a visit, a trip, a conversation,” he told reporters.

“My hope and expectation is that we will have better communications, better engagement in the future. This certainly won’t solve all the problems between us, far from it. But it’s crucial to do what we both agree is necessary. And this is managing the relationship responsibly”.

Alexander Ward contributed to this report.