US and China spar over global conflicts

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday, wrapping up a three-day visit to China in an attempt to put aside differences between the countries in light of several lingering international and regional issues. ​ 

When Antony Blinken headed for Shanghai on Wednesday, he was facing a difficult task. He had had to keep fruitful talks with China going amid rising tensions and disagreements. Shortly after the Secretary of State’s arrival, U.S. President Joe Biden signed a $95 billion foreign aid package that has several elements likely to anger Beijing, including financial support for Taiwan and a plan to ban TikTok in the United States. 

Stabilising the rocky relationship and expanding communication between the two countries was thus no easy task. On a positive note, Blinken applauded the increasingly better bilateral cooperation in areas like military communications, counternarcotics and artificial intelligence. At the same time, he didn’t steer clear from the challenges posed by China. 

Russia, Taiwan, and the Middle East

During Friday’s press conference on his three-day visit, Blinken said he had raised concerns about Beijing’s supply of materials, including machine tools and microelectronics, to Russia. These are being used by President Vladimir Putin to boost the country’s defences and its war on Ukraine. "Russia would struggle to sustain its assault on Ukraine without China's support", according to the Secretary of State. 

He also warned China about its ‘dangerous actions’ in the South China Sea. He pointed to tensions in the Taiwan Strait, expressed concern over the erosion of Hong Kong's autonomy and questioned human rights violations in Tibet. He also reiterated ironclad American support for the Philippines, its oldest treaty ally in Asia.

Finally, Blinken says he urged China to play a role in discouraging Iran and others from escalating tensions in the Middle East.

Common ground

China’s President Xi Jinping, in turn, noted that this year is the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and China and said the two countries should be partners rather than adversaries. He noted some positive advancements since his previous encounter with US President Joe Biden, but also emphasised the necessity for continued efforts and addressing outstanding concerns.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, on the other hand, was somewhat sharper in his statements. He said that “China’s legitimate development rights have been unreasonably suppressed”, referring to U.S. policies and positions on the South China Sea, Taiwan, and human rights.


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a press conference in Beijing © WANG Zhao / AFP

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