Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met in Beijing Monday, shaking hands in front of photographers.
At a press conference afterward, Blinken addressed the media without Xi, telling reporters the relationship between their two nations constitutes "one of the most consequential in the world" and "both the United States and China have an obligation to manage this relationship responsibly."
"I came to Beijing to strengthen high-level channels of communication to make clear our positions and intentions in areas of disagreement and to explore areas where we might work together when our interests align on shared transnational challenges. And we did all of that here in Beijing. I had an important conversation with President Xi Jinping, and I had candid, substantive and constructive discussions with my counterparts, Director Wang Yi and State Councilor Qin Gang," Blinken said. "I appreciate the hospitality extended by our hosts in every meeting. I stressed that direct engagement and sustained communication at senior levels is the best way to responsibly manage our differences and ensure that competition does not veer into conflict. And I heard the same from my Chinese counterparts. We both agree on the need to stabilize our relationship."
"We have no illusions about the challenges of managing this relationship. There are many issues on which we profoundly, even vehemently disagree," Blinken added. "We will always take the best course of action to advance the interests of the American people. But the United States has a long history of successfully managing complicated, consequential relationships through diplomacy. It's the responsibility of both countries to find a path forward, and it's in both our interests and the interests of the world that we do so."
During his meetings in China, the secretary relayed that he had "robust conversation" about "Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine," "North Korea's increasingly reckless actions and rhetoric" regarding its nuclear program, as well as over U.S. concerns "about the PRC's provocative actions in the Taiwan Strait as well as in the South and East China Seas."
In responding to a reporter's question about tensions in the Taiwan Strait, Blinken warned that any crisis over Taiwan "could affect quite literally the entire world."
"We remain committed to our One China Policy with the three communiques, the Taiwan Relations Act, the six assurances. We do not support Taiwan’s independence. We made it clear that we oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo by either side. We have been clear and consistent in our policy, and it’s very important that we preserve that status quo that has maintained peace and stability across the Strait for decades," Blinken said.
"At the same time, we and many others have deep concerns about some of the provocative actions that China has taken in recent years going back to 2016. And the reason that this is a concern for so many countries, not just the United States, is that were there to be a crisis over Taiwan, the likelihood is that could produce an economic crisis that could affect quite literally the entire world," he said. "Fifty percent of commercial container traffic goes through the Taiwan Strait every day. Seventy percent of semiconductors are manufactured in Taiwan. If as a result of a crisis that was taken offline, it would have dramatic consequences for virtually every country around the world.
"President Biden believes strongly that one of the successful aspects in our relationship with China going back five decades has been the responsible management of the Taiwan question. We continue to believe that’s essential," Blinken added.
Over the last year, the U.S. and China saw more than $700 billion in trade – which according to Blinken constituted the highest level between the two counties on record. He, therefore, reiterated U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's testimony before Congress last week that it would be "disastrous" for the U.S. to decouple and stop all trade and investment with China.
"We are for de-risking and diversifying. That means investing in our own capacities and in secure, resilient supply chains, pushing for level playing fields for our workers in our companies. Defending against harmful trade practices and protecting our critical technologies so that they aren't used against us. I made clear that we'll continue to take targeted actions that are necessary to protect U.S. national security," Blinken said.
The State Department provided a readout of an exhange between Xi and Blinken before their meeting in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
"The Chinese side has made our decision clear, and the two sides have agreed to follow through the common understandings President Biden and I had reached in Bali. The two sides have also made progress and reached agreement on some specific issues. This is very good," Xi, speaking through a translator, said. "It’s safe to say that interactions should always be based on mutual respect and sincerity. I hope that through this visit, Mr. Secretary, you will make more positive contributions to stabilizing China-U.S. relations."
"Mr. President, thank you for receiving us today. President Biden asked me to travel to Beijing because he believes that the United States and China have an obligation and responsibility to manage our relationship. The United States is committed to doing that. It’s in the interest of the United States, in the interests of China, and in the interest of the world," Blinken responded.
"Over the past few days I have had candid and constructive conversations with State Councilor Qin Gang and Director Wang Yi. We covered a broad range of both bilateral and global issues. I appreciate this opportunity to discuss the way forward with you. Thank you," the secretary added, according to the State Department readout.