Xi Meets Blinken With Tough Issues on the Agenda

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with China’s leader, Xi Jinping, in Beijing on Friday, in an attempt to hold together a fractious relationship despite disputes over the economy, national security and geopolitical frictions in East Asia, the Middle East and Ukraine.

Both China and the United States have said they were hoping for progress on a few smaller, pragmatic fronts, including improving communications.But they remain at a standstill on fundamental strategic issues, including trade policies and territorial conflicts in the South China Sea and over Taiwan. Both sides acknowledge the danger of the relationship sliding into further conflict.

The Biden administration is deeply concerned that cheap Chinese exports are threatening U.S. jobs, and are worried about China’s support of Russia in the Ukrainian war. And China has accused the United States of working to encircle Chinese interests in the Pacific.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Blinken spent more than five hours with China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, in meetings and a working lunch at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.

In his remarks, Mr. Wang struck a somewhat more conciliatory tone than in the past, telling Mr. Blinken that “the China-U.S. relationship is beginning to stabilize,” and that its future would rely on the decisions of both countries. During Mr. Blinken’s visit last year, Mr. Wang laid the blame for the deterioration of ties with the United States, which he said needed to “reflect upon itself.”

But Mr. Wang also warned on Friday that negative factors in the relationship were still “increasing and building.”

“The relationship is facing all kinds of disruptions,” Mr. Wang said Friday. “China’s legitimate development rights have been unreasonably suppressed and our core interests are facing challenges.”

“I hope that we can make some progress on the issues that our presidents agreed we should cooperation on, but also clarify our differences, our intent, and make very clear to each other where we stand,” Mr. Blinken responded.

Among other goals, U.S. officials want China to make progress on stemming the flow to the United States of chemicals used to make fentanyl, and to strengthen communication between the respective countries’ militaries to try to avoid accidents and misunderstandings. Chinese officials said they would promote more cultural exchanges between the countries, and press the United States to end interrogations of Chinese students at the border.

In recent weeks, U.S. officials have begun more urgently raising concerns about China’s economic assistance to Russia. China has denied providing weapons for Russia’s war effort, which Washington has said would be a red line, but American officials say it is still boosting Russia’s defense industry by selling components that can be used for civilian or military purposes.

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