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Xi, Blinken agree to stabilize US-China relations in Beijing talks

(Last Updated On: June 20, 2023)

China and the United States agreed on Monday to stabilize their intense rivalry so it does not veer into conflict, but failed to produce any major breakthrough during a rare visit to Beijing by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed “progress” after shaking hands with Blinken at the Great Hall of the People, a grand venue usually reserved for greeting heads of state, Reuters reported.

The top U.S. diplomat and Xi both stressed the importance of having a more stable relationship, as any conflict between the world’s two largest economies would create global disruption.

China refused to entertain Washington’s bid to resume military-to-military communication channels, citing U.S. sanctions as the obstacle. The two sides appeared entrenched in their positions over everything from Taiwan to trade, including U.S. actions toward China’s chip industry, human rights and Russia’s war against Ukraine.

U.S. President Joe Biden said later on Monday he thinks relations between the two countries are on the right path, and indicated that progress was made during Blinken’s trip.

“We’re on the right trail here,” Biden said of U.S.-China relations. Asked by reporters during a trip to California whether he felt progress had been made, he replied, “I don’t feel,” he said. “You know it’s been made.”

Biden said of Blinken: “He did a hell of a job.”

At one of the most significant U.S.-China exchanges since Biden took office, it was not clear how the countries would overcome their differences. The sides agreed to continue diplomatic engagement with more visits in the coming weeks and months.

At a news conference concluding his two-day trip to Beijing, the first by a U.S. secretary of state since 2018, Blinken said Washington had achieved its objectives for the trip, including raising concerns directly, trying to set up channels for dialogue and exploring areas of cooperation. The trip was postponed in February after a suspected Chinese spy balloon flew through U.S. airspace.

But he said progress was not straightforward.

“The relationship was at a point of instability, and both sides recognized the need to work to stabilize it,” Blinken said before leaving China.

His meetings in Beijing, including talks with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi and foreign minister Qin Gang, had been “candid and constructive,” Blinken added.