US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Rome, October 31, 2021 The US and Chinese foreign ministers held their first meeting since last October
President Biden is considering lifting tariffs on a number of Chinese goods to curb rising U.S. inflation until the November midterm elections, when control of Congress comes into focus.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met on Saturday for the first face-to-face talks since October. This meeting comes after a G20 meeting where a senior US diplomat led the effort to put pressure on Russia over the war in Ukraine.
US officials report that the topics of Anthony Blinken's meeting with Wang Yi on the island of Bali in Indonesia, including a morning session of talks and a working lunch, were: keeping the troubled US relationship with China in a state of stability, as well as preventing that relationship from inadvertently escalating into conflict.< br />
“There is nothing that can replace face-to-face diplomacy … and there is much to discuss in such a complex and important relationship that has developed between the United States and China,” Blinken explained to reporters at the beginning of the meeting.
“We are very much looking forward to a productive and constructive conversation,” he added.
Blinken was expected to recall China's warning not to support Russia's war in Ukraine, and the two sides would start discussing contentious issues, including Taiwan, claims China to the South China Sea, expansion of its influence in the Pacific, human rights and trade tariffs.
However, both parties are interested in maintaining the stability of relations. Both Blinken and other US officials have confirmed that US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to say so again in the coming days.
“China and the US are the two leading powers. There is a need to maintain a normal exchange [of views] between the two countries,” Wang Yi told reporters.
“At the same time, we need to negotiate to ensure that these relations continue to develop in the right direction.” , he said.
Daniel Russell, the senior U.S. diplomat who was in charge of U.S. foreign policy in East Asia under former President Barack Obama and who has close contacts with Biden administration officials, shared that a key goal of the talks is to explore the possibility of a face-to-face meeting between Biden and Xi on the sidelines of the summit. G20 in Bali in November.
The United States has named China as its main strategic rival and is concerned that it may one day try to take over the democratically self-governing island of Taiwan, using Russia's aggression against Ukraine as an example.
Senior US East Asia diplomat Daniel Kritenbrink said Tuesday that he was looking forward to a “frank” exchange with Wang, and said it would be another opportunity to “communicate our expectations about what the US [wants] China and what the PRC should not do in the context of the war in Ukraine.”< br />
Shortly before Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Beijing and Moscow announced a “limitless” partnership. US officials confirmed that they did not see China evading US sanctions against Russia or supplying it with military equipment.
However, China refused to condemn Russia's actions and criticized the sweeping sanctions.
US officials have warned their Chinese counterparts about the possible consequences, including sanctions, if China begins to provide material support to Russia in its war against Ukraine. The Kremlin calls this war a “special military operation” to demilitarize Ukraine, while Kyiv insists it is an imperial-style land grab by Moscow.
Despite the strategic rivalry between Washington and Beijing, the two the world's largest economies remain major trading partners. President Biden is considering lifting tariffs on a number of Chinese goods to curb rising U.S. inflation until the November midterm elections, when control of Congress comes into focus.