– Blinken and Wang are trying to ease Sino-American tensions
Chinese and US diplomatic chiefs Wang Yi and Anthony Blinken sought to defuse tensions between their countries during a rare meeting in Bali, Indonesia on Saturday.
“In a relationship as complex and important as the relationship between the United States and China, there are many things to discuss,” said Anthony Blinken, as he and Wang Yi posed in front of American flags and Chinese ones at a hotel in Bali. A working lunch followed by a morning of discussions. “We look forward to constructive and constructive dialogue,” he added.
“China and the United States are two big countries, so it is necessary for the two countries to maintain normal exchanges,” Wang Yi replied. “We must work together to ensure that this relationship continues to move forward on the right track,” he added, calling for “mutual respect.”
The meeting between the two officials, the first since October, comes after the previous day’s G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Bali.
As the West struggles to isolate Russia after its invasion of Ukraine and the global economy is plagued by growing uncertainties, China and the United States have taken precautions to prevent their myriad differences from degenerating into an uncontrollable conflict.
“The United States will try to do everything possible to prevent any miscalculation that could lead to conflict without concern,” the top US ambassador to East Asia told reporters ahead of the meeting. East, Daniel Christenbrink.
The meeting between Wang Yi and Anthony Blinken is set for a virtual meeting between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping in the coming weeks. Meetings between top defense, finance and national security officials of the two countries have also taken place over the past two months.
The “Global Times”, a Chinese state newspaper known to be critical of the US, said the growing rapprochement between Beijing and Washington was a sign of “consensus on both sides to avoid escalation”. But tensions remain high, particularly over Taiwan. The United States is concerned about growing military pressure from Beijing on the democratic island, which it considers an integral part of its territory and has vowed to one day withdraw.
And Joe Biden has largely retained the substance of his predecessor Donald Trump’s hard line on China. But in a recent speech, Joe Biden made it clear that while he stood by his criticisms, including accusing Beijing of genocide against the Uighur people, the US was not trying to start a new ‘Cold War’.
The Biden administration is expected to soon ease some of Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods that could dampen inflation, which has become a major political handicap in the United States.
US officials have expressed cautious optimism about China’s stance on Ukraine, condemning its rhetorical support for Russia but noting that Beijing backs its words with no material aid to Russia.
A Western official noted that China’s approach to the Ukraine issue at the G20 summit on Friday was “restraint and prudence is the strike”. But US officials are well aware that any mini-honeymoon with China could be fleeting. They expect Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader in decades, to reshuffle his foreign policy team at the Communist Party congress later this year.
But Craig Singleton, who monitors China at the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, expects Xi Jinping to reassign technical experts who can work with Washington. “The reason is simple: China’s economy is facing significant headwinds and Chinese policymakers are eager to acknowledge that China’s aggressive rhetoric has backfired,” he said.