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Prof. ST Hsieh

Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum

626-376-7460

[email protected]

June 18, 2023

From media coverage so far, Blinken’s first day in Beijing was good and productive. His arrival at the old Beijing Capital Airport was low key without any fanfare. His meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang started at the meeting venue on time in the afternoon, after about five and half hour “candid, in-depth, and constructive talk,” he was treated with a “working dinner” by the host. “Working dinner” usually means that a dinner for the meeting parties only, no outsiders, so some businesses could still be covered during the dinner.

There were no breakthroughs during the bilateral meeting, but it did yield some tangible agreements. For example, Blinken invited his host, Foreign Minister Qin to visit the US and Qin accepted the invitation. One could re-call that when Qin was serving as China’s Ambassador to the US, Blinken never met Ambassador Qin. Another example is both sides have agreed to re-launch ‘the China-US joint working group to address specific issues.’

Clearly Blinken’s first trip to Beijing did stabilize the troubled US-China relation somewhat. Of course, many “fundamental differences” still exist between the US and China and risks are not fully eliminated. Case in mind is that the US is already entering active 2024 general election season, messy campaigns will definitely constrain Biden’s bandwidth of managing foreign relations. The other challenge or opportunity is ending the war in Ukraine.

Qin, Blinken conclude a ‘long candid, in-depth, and constructive’ talk

By GT staff reporters Published: Jun 18, 2023 10:51 PM

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken concluded a nearly six-hour candid, in-depth and constructive talk on Sunday concerning the overall China-US relations, making agreement on four sectors including maintaining high-level contacts and advancing the China-US joint working group to address specific issues while expanding people-to-people and educational exchanges between the two countries. 

Some Chinese experts said the readout from the Chinese side indicated that some positive results had been achieved, which will be helpful for advancing interactions between the two countries in the coming months. Also, the two sides agreed on maintaining the dialogue, reflecting the shared consensus on managing the divergences and the shared hope that the China-US relations should not spiral out of control, experts said.  

At present, China-US relations are at the lowest point since the two sides established diplomatic relations. This does not conform to the fundamental interests of the people in the two countries, nor does it conform to the common expectations of the international community, Qin noted during the meeting with Blinken, according to a readout issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry late Sunday night.

China is committed to building a stable, predictable and constructive relationship with the US. It is hoped that the US side will uphold an objective and rational understanding of China to meet China halfway, maintain the political foundation of China-US relations, and handle unexpected incidents calmly, professionally and rationally, Qin said.

Qin also reiterated China’s solemn position and made clear demands on China’s core interests and major concerns including the Taiwan question. He pointed out that the Taiwan question is the core of China’s core interests, the most important issue and the most prominent risk in China-US relations. He urged the US side to abide by the one-China principle and the three Sino-US joint communiqués, and implement its commitment not to support “Taiwan independence.”

Some media reported that their meeting had lasted for 5.5 hours before Qin and Blinken moved to a working dinner.

Both sides agreed to maintain high-level contacts. Blinken invited Qin to visit the US, and Qin expressed his willingness to visit the US when it is convenient for both parties.

They also agreed to continue advancing consultations on the guiding principles of China-US relations as well as consultations of the China-US joint working group to address specific issues in China-US relations, agreeing to encourage the expansion of people-to-people and educational exchanges between the two countries, including actively exploring the addition of passenger flights, welcoming more students, scholars, and businesspeople to visit each other’s country. 

Core interests of China 

Some experts considered that the overall state of the China-US relations is still fragile and unstable, and at this juncture, if unexpected incidents occur, the two sides must handle them calmly and should not be overly influenced by domestic politics. Especially on the Taiwan question, the US has indeed “gone too far,” showing dangerous signs of crossing the redline. 

US Secretary of State, Chinese counterpart agree on continued dialogue

NHK: 4 hours ago

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang have confirmed they will maintain dialogue amid souring bilateral relations.

The US State Department says they had candid and constructive talks during their seven-and-a-half-hour meeting that included a dinner.

The two agreed to continue the discussions. Qin accepted an invitation from Blinken to travel to Washington at a mutually suitable time.

But a senior State Department official told reporters there were big differences between the two sides, without giving details.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry says Qin pointed out that the Taiwan issue is the center of China’s core interests and the most prominent risk in China-US relations.

Antony Blinken hails ‘candid’ talks on high stakes China trip

By Anthony Zurcher in Beijing & Antoinette Radford in London

BBC News

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held “candid” talks with his Chinese counterpart at the start of two days of meetings with officials in China, the US state department says.

Mr Blinken emphasised the need for diplomacy and keeping “open channels of communication”, a statement added.

US officials say the main goal of the Beijing talks is to stabilise a relationship that has become extremely tense.

China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang told Mr Blinken that Beijing was committed to building a stable, predictable and constructive relationship with the US, state media said. US officials said he had agreed to a visit to Washington at the talks.

Mr Qin said Taiwan was the “most prominent risk” for China-US relations and described the Taiwan issue as one of “China’s core interests“, state media said.

China sees self-ruled Taiwan as a breakaway province that will eventually be under Beijing’s control, but Taiwan sees itself as distinct from the Chinese mainland with its own constitution and leaders. US President Joe Biden said last year that the US would defend Taiwan in the event of an attack from China, a move condemned by Beijing.

Mr Qin greeted Mr Blinken on Sunday morning at the Diaoyutai State Guest House, a lavish estate that typically hosts visiting dignitaries.

The two shook hands as they stood before their respective flags, then sat down with their delegations at long tables to begin their meetings.

The greeting was business-like, underscoring the chilly relations that have developed between the two superpowers in recent years.

The US had been lowering expectations for the trip and both sides have made clear they do not expect any major breakthrough.

The war in Ukraine, trade disputes over advanced computer technologies, the fentanyl drug epidemic in the US and Chinese human rights conduct are all topics the Americans were expecting to be discussed.

Chinese officials have reacted coolly to Mr Blinken’s visit, questioning whether the US is sincere in its efforts to mend relations.

“If we want to make sure, as we do, that the competition that we have with China doesn’t veer into conflict, the place you start is with communicating,” Mr Blinken told reporters on Friday.

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