US and China Pledge to Stabilize Ties, Avoid Conflict

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  • China and the US have pledged to strengthen their ties after Blinken’s meeting with President Xi Jinping. 
  • It comes at a time of historically poor relations between the two countries. 
  • The State Department said they had “made progress” but many key issues remain unresolved.  

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese President Xi Jinping have pledged to stabilize the badly-deteriorated ties between China and the US during a critical meeting in Beijing on Monday. 

It remains to be seen whether the two countries can resolve their most important disagreements, many of which have international financial, security and stability implications.

However, the US State Department said that Blinken had “underscored the importance of responsibly managing the competition between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.”

It added that the meeting could help “ensure competition does not veer into conflict.”

In a transcript of remarks shared by the State Department, Xi called the progress “very good.” He added that the two sides have agreed to follow through on agreements he and President Joe Biden had made at a previous meeting in Bali. 

“The two sides have also made progress and reached agreement on some specific issues,” he said, without describing them. 

Blinken said, per the State Department, that the two countries “have an obligation and responsibility to manage our relationship,” and said the US is “committed” to this. 

Blinken’s meeting with Xi makes him the highest-level U.S. official to visit China since President Joe Biden took office, and the first secretary of state to make the trip in five years.

Blinken met with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi for about three hours, as well as taking on a six-hour meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, after which both countries said they had agreed to continue high-level discussions.

However, there was no sign that any of the most fractious issues between them were closer to resolution. Relations, at a long-time low, have been marred by several high-profile incidents. 

A Chinese surveillance balloon shot down by the US over US soil prompted Blinken in February to postpone a planned visit to China; there have been further tense military encounters in the South China Sea. 

In retaliation for then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last summer, China canceled a raft of agreements between the two countries, including mutual security arrangements. 

This in turn has increased concerns about military encounters in much-watched areas such as the South China Sea. In early June, a Chinese jet performed a dramatic intercept of a US aircraft in this airspace, which was described by US officials as “unnecessarily aggressive maneuver.”

Experts told Insider the move — which was followed a few days later by a maritime near-miss in the same waters — was a sign of an increasingly emboldened China. 

Both sides on Monday expressed a willingness to keep talking. 

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