Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met on Monday with Wang Yi, the top foreign policy official in China, in the second day of high-level diplomatic talks in Beijing between the two governments to try to rebuild channels of communication that crumbled during a dispute over a Chinese spy balloon early this year.

The talks on a rainy morning in the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse were a prelude to an expected meeting between Mr. Blinken and Xi Jinping, China’s leader, in the afternoon. The two governments have not formally announced that meeting, but American and Chinese officials have spoken of the planning for it in optimistic tones in recent days. They have said the two days of diplomacy in Beijing would ideally lead to a series of visits soon to the Chinese capital by other cabinet-level American officials.

Mr. Blinken is the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Beijing since 2018. The efforts to establish regular top-level diplomacy come at a pivotal point in the fraught relationship between the two nations. Bilateral relations between the United States and China are at their lowest point in decades. Tensions soared in February when the Pentagon announced that a Chinese surveillance balloon was drifting across the continental United States, then ordered American fighter jets to shoot it down.

Mr. Blinken canceled a scheduled visit to Beijing on the morning after the Pentagon announced its discovery of the balloon. Mr. Blinken’s decision came hours before leaving and as U.S. lawmakers voiced fury over the balloon. That infuriated Chinese officials, who said the entire episode spoiled progress made four months earlier in Bali, Indonesia, when President Biden and Mr. Xi agreed to try to stabilize ties. Chinese officials have continued to say the balloon had been launched for weather research and had floated off course.

Relations were further strained in February when Mr. Blinken confronted Mr. Wang on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference to tell him Washington believed China was considering providing lethal support to Russia for its war in Ukraine. China responded by freezing some important diplomatic exchanges and intensifying anti-American rhetoric.

See also  Rep. Eric Swalwell Destroys Matt Gaetz For Bringing A Charged Murderer To The House

The two men behaved cordially on Monday, when they walked together down a hallway with a red carpet into a meeting room. As with Mr. Blinken’s five-and-a-half-hour meeting in the same statehouse compound with Qin Gang, the Chinese foreign minister, on Sunday, delegations from the two governments sat at long tables facing each other.

In that Sunday meeting and a two-hour dinner, Mr. Blinken and Mr. Qin made progress on rebuilding regular diplomacy, even as they spoke openly about areas of conflict in the relationship, according to readouts from each government and a briefing by State Department officials to reporters traveling with Mr. Blinken. The department’s written summary said the talks were “candid, substantive, and constructive.”

The American officials said the two governments had agreed to have working groups and diplomats meet soon on a range of issues, including increased access to each country for journalists, scholars and students. The U.S. officials also said they and Chinese counterparts had agreed to expand direct commercial flights between the two nations.

The two days of meetings may arrest the downward spiral in ties. Analysts say it will take much more for the two sides to overcome the mistrust that weighs on the relationship, but aiming to rebuild a foundation of high-level diplomacy is a worthwhile start.

“Diplomacy is not a gift but an indispensable means of understanding the other side and tackling difficult issues,” said Jessica Chen Weiss, a Cornell University professor who has studied Chinese politics and was a recent adviser in the State Department on China policy. “Re-establishing channels of communication is the bare minimum needed to reduce the growing risk of miscalculation and crisis.”

China has rebuffed attempts by the Biden administration to establish so-called guardrails to prevent potential accidents in contested areas like the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea from spiraling out of control. Analysts say some Chinese officials view any perception by the Americans that the Chinese government and its military can be unpredictable and have a growing appetite for risk is itself a useful deterrent. The thinking goes that the perception might lead U.S. officials to reconsider their military’s activities in the waters and skies around China.

See also  Intel to invest $25 billion in Israel factory in record deal, Netanyahu says By Reuters

China has repeatedly blamed the United States for the deterioration in bilateral ties. No issue rankles Beijing more than Washington’s perceived growing support for Taiwan, the de facto independent island claimed by China. Beijing has also sought to push back against Washington’s efforts to restrict its access to advanced semiconductor chips and manufacturing equipment, as well as deepening defense ties with regional allies, notably Japan, South Korea, Australia and the Philippines.

Analysts said China may have been driven to meet with Mr. Blinken for a number of reasons. Pressure may be mounting on Beijing to stabilize ties because of China’s worsening economy. Other countries have also been imploring China and the United States to break the cycle of hostility. Mr. Xi may have also wanted to steady the relationship so that he’s received like a global statesman if he chooses to attend a leaders’ summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group of nations in San Francisco in November.

“China has spent the past several months blaming the United States for all that is wrong in the relationship and inside China more broadly. Now, China’s leaders need to carve out political space to pivot toward more direct communication,” said Ryan Hass, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who was a China director at the National Security Council under President Obama.

“Beijing sees it as in its interest to communicate directly to manage stresses in the relationship and build an on-ramp for President Xi to meet with President Biden in the fall,” Mr. Hass added.


Source link

(This article is generated through the syndicated feed sources, Financetin doesn’t own any part of this article)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *