The United States and China seek to ease rising tensions on many fronts
NUSA DUA, Indonesia — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his Chinese counterpart on Saturday in a fresh effort to try to curb or at least manage the endemic hostility that has defined recent relations between Washington and Beijing.
Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi were talking in the Indonesian resort town of Bali, a day after they both attended a gathering of senior diplomats from the failed Group of 20 rich and big developing countries to reach consensus on Russia’s war in Ukraine and how to deal with its impacts.
Wang and Blinken were discussing a range of contentious issues ranging from tariffs to trade and human rights in Taiwan and disputes in the South China Sea. Just two days earlier, the two countries’ top military officers clashed over Taiwan in a virtual meeting.
“In a relationship as complex and consequential as that between the United States and China, there is much to be said and I look forward to a productive and constructive conversation,” Blinken said as the couple made their way to the door. closed. -door meeting.
Wang said “it is necessary for the two countries to maintain normal exchanges” and “work together to ensure that this relationship will continue to move forward on the right track.”
He echoed frequent Chinese lines about sticking to the principles of “mutual respect”, “peaceful coexistence” and “win-win cooperation”. This, he said, “serves the interests of both countries and both peoples. It is also the common aspiration of the international community”.
US officials said in advance they expected no breakthrough from Blinken’s talks with Wang. But they said they hoped the conversation could help keep the lines of communication open and create “guardrails” to guide the world’s two largest economies as they navigate growing issues. complex and potentially explosive.
The United States and China have taken increasingly confrontational positions, including on Ukraine, which some fear could lead to miscalculations and conflict. The United States cautiously observed China’s refusal to criticize the Russian invasion, while condemning Western sanctions against Russia and accusing the United States and NATO of provoking the conflict.
The Biden administration had hoped China, with its long history of opposing what it sees as interference in its own internal affairs, would take a similar stance with Ukraine. But he did not, choosing instead what U.S. officials see as a hybrid stance that undermines the rules-based international order.
At the G-20 meeting, Wang made an indirect reference to China’s policy on global stability, saying “putting one’s own security above others’ security and stepping up military blocs will only divide the international community and make themselves less secure,” according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
On Thursday, the Chairman of the Chinese Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Li Zuocheng, criticized his American counterpart, General Mark Milley, for Washington’s support for Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province.
Li demanded that the United States cease military “collusion” with Taiwan, saying China had “no room for compromise” on issues affecting its “core interests”, which include Taiwan’s autonomy, which Beijing claims as its own territory to be annexed by force if necessary.
“China demands that the United States…stop reversing history, end US-Taiwanese military collusion, and avoid affecting China-US relations and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” he said. said Mr. Li.
Meanwhile, Li was also quoted in a Defense Ministry press release as saying that China hopes to “further strengthen dialogue, manage risks and promote cooperation, rather than deliberately creating confrontation, provoking incidents and to exclude each other”.
China regularly flies warplanes near Taiwan to announce its threat of attack, and the island’s defense ministry said Chinese air force planes crossed the center line of the Taiwan Strait, dividing the two sides on Friday morning.
The meeting between Li and Milley follows fiery comments by Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe at a regional security conference last month also attended by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
Wei accused the United States of trying to “hijack” support from countries in the Asia-Pacific region and turn them against Beijing, saying Washington was seeking to advance its own interests “under the guise of multilateralism”.
At the same meeting in Singapore, Austin said China was causing instability with its claim to Taiwan and increased military activity in the region.
In May, Blinken angered Chinese by calling the country “the most serious long-term challenge to the international order” for the United States, with its claims on Taiwan and its efforts to dominate the strategic South China Sea. .
The United States and its allies have responded with what it calls “freedom of navigation” patrols in the South China Sea, prompting angry reactions from Beijing.