Friday, September 22, 2023

Xi tells Blinken: World needs stable China-U.S. relations

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday ended a high-stakes visit to Beijing with an unexpected meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. During the meeting, the china's leader stressed the world needs steady relations between Beijing and Washington after a period of simmering tensions.

During the meeting at the Diaoyutai state guest house — which lasted 35 minutes, according to the U.S. State Department — Xi stressed the world needed a “generally stable” China-U.S. relationship, according to a translated readout from China’s foreign ministry.

Xi added that whether the two countries “can find the right way to get along bears on the future and destiny of humanity.”

“I hope that, through this visit, Mr. secretary, you will make more positive contributions to stabilizing China-U.S. relations,” the Chinese leader said in a video carried by Chinese state television outlet CCTV, following “candid and in-depth discussions” between the two officials that led to progress and agreement on some undetailed “specific issues.”

Beijing respects Washington’s interests and will not challenge or try to replace them, Xi said, adding that the U.S. should likewise respect China and not prejudice its legitimate rights and interests.

Blinken agreed on the need for the U.S. and China to stabilize their bilateral relationship, before adding it was his hope that the two countries would have better communications. He also added Washington was clear-eyed about the challenges Beijing posed.

Earlier in the day, the secretary said U.S. President Joe Biden had asked him to travel to China because “he believes the United States and China have an obligation to responsibly manage our relationship.”

“The United States is committed to doing that,” Blinken stated, adding, “It’s in the interest of the United States in the interest of China and in the interest of the world.”

“I appreciate this opportunity to discuss a way forward with you,” Blinken told Xi.

Blinken’s trip — which had not initially confirmed a meeting with Xi on the agenda — makes him the highest-level American official to visit China since Biden became U.S. president, as well as the first U.S. secretary of State to make the trip in nearly five years.

His original travel plans for February were disrupted by news of an alleged Chinese spy balloon flying over U.S. airspace, in an incident that stoked tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

The visit could pave the way for a November meeting between Biden and Xi, after the two world leaders last met in person on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali late last year.

Blinken’s encounter with Xi echoed the optimistic, communication-geared tone of the state secretary’s other meetings with senior Chinese officials in recent days.

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