China and the United States must choose between cooperation and conflict. Chinese top diplomat Wang Yi told Antony Blinken on Monday. The U.S. foreign minister stressed that the U.S. does not want to disengage from China.
Blinken has been in Beijing since Sunday. It is the first visit by a U.S. foreign minister to China since 2018. A previously planned visit this year did not go ahead, mainly because of a Chinese spy balloon over the US.
On Sunday, Blinken met with Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang. The conversation lasted hours and was much longer than planned. Top diplomat Wang is chief of the foreign commission of the Chinese Communist Party. He is higher in the hierarchy than Qin.
Blinken made it “very clear” during the Beijing meetings that the U.S. does not want to disengage from China. He expressed a desire to stabilize the relationship between the two superpowers and prevent the competition from descending into conflict. According to Wang, the two countries “must stop the downward spiral of their relations. China and the U.S. must find a healthy and stable mode of operation again, to cooperate and get along.”
Foreign Minister Qin told Blinken that in time he might also visit the US.
Later on Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping received Blinken. Beforehand, Xi said he hoped the visit would make a positive contribution to mutual relations.
Blinken thanked China for the hospitality afterwards in a press conference. He said the countries want to strengthen ties. The foreign minister also made it clear that China must work for peace in Ukraine and that he is worried about provocative Chinese actions in the strait between the mainland and Taiwan. That island is effectively independent and receives U.S. support. But China considers Taiwan a rebel province. Beijing, according to Blinken, has reiterated that China does not supply arms to Russia.
The relationship between China and the U.S. has cooled considerably in recent years. Besides the issue over Taiwan, the countries have disagreed on many other issues. At the same time, their economies are closely intertwined, making them interdependent in many areas.
It is clear to Washington and Beijing that they will be each other’s main competitors this century. The focus of U.S. foreign policy is shifting from Europe to Asia, although Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is causing delays. But there, too, China is coming around the corner: as an ally of Russia and as a player seeking to assert itself on the world stage.
About the author: Jeff Roper
Jeff Roper has been teaching journalism for more than five years. A theorist who nevertheless took up some practice. He is fond of the history of journalism and journalism.