Posted by on September 18, 2023 5:41 pm
Categories: News Washington Examiner

Biden team continues flurry of meetings with Chinese officials

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Vice President Han Zheng pose for photos, Monday, Sept. 18, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson, Pool) Julia Nikhinson/AP

Biden team continues flurry of meetings with Chinese officials

Joel Gehrke September 18, 04:43 PM September 18, 04:45 PM Video Embed

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with a senior Chinese official on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly as President Joe Biden’s administration seeks to establish “a floor” for a fraught rivalry with the communist power.

“I think it’s a good thing that we have this opportunity to build on the recent high-level engagements that our countries have had, to make sure that we’re maintaining open communications and demonstrate that we are responsibly managing the relationship between our two countries,” Blinken said at the outset of a meeting with Chinese Vice President Han Zheng. “The world expects us to responsibly manage our relationship.”


Their meeting takes place just two days after White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan huddled in Malta with China’s top foreign policy official, Wang Yi. Blinken drew a more junior interlocutor on Monday, as Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping skipped the high-level forum and Wang prioritized a trip to Moscow, but the meeting continues a flurry of encounters between the rival governments.

“The two sides discussed key issues in the U.S.-China bilateral relationship, global and regional security issues, Russia’s war against Ukraine, and cross-Strait issues, among other topics,” Sullivan’s team said in a summary of his Saturday meeting. “The United States noted the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. The two sides committed to maintain this strategic channel of communication and to pursue additional high-level engagement and consultations in key areas between the United States and the People’s Republic of China in the coming months.”

Sullivan’s trip was perceived in Beijing as a renewal of the possibility that the two heads of state could meet this fall. “Many are worried that any hope of a Xi-Biden meeting has been dashed,” Renmin University professor Wang Yiwei told the South China Morning Post. “The conversation [between Wang Yi and Sullivan] was largely for the purpose of laying the foundation for a meeting between the two leaders.”

Biden and Xi could meet in November on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco if Xi attends the forum, but his absence from the G20 summit in India casts fresh doubt on his interest in the opportunity. A Chinese intelligence agency sent a signal in early September that “the United States needs to show enough sincerity” to persuade Xi to make the trip, and Han reiterated that point on Monday.

“The world needs healthy and stable US-China relations, which benefit not only China and the U.S., but the whole world,” the Chinese official said. “Last year President Xi had a very successful meeting with President Biden in Bali and yielded a lot important consensus. They point to the right direction for the relations. Now China-U.S. relations face a lot of difficulties and challenges. It needs us both to display more sincerity, more efforts and meet each other half way.”

In parallel, Chinese Communist forces have increased the scale and pace of their military activities around Taiwan, the island democracy that Beijing intends to rule.

“Let me say that Taiwan is part of China’s territory,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said Monday when asked about the renewed surge of military activity around Taiwan. “There is no so-called ‘median line’ in the Taiwan Strait.”


Chinese officials stopped that unofficial boundary, which has divided the strait for decades, after then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited Taipei last year. The United States, for its part, maintains warm unofficial relations with its former treaty ally, supplemented recently by a chorus of warnings from Biden and other democratic powers that a war over Taiwan would have catastrophic consequences.

“From the perspective of the United States, face to face diplomacy is the best way to deal with areas where we disagree, and also the best way to explore areas of cooperation between us,” Blinken said. “The world expects us to responsibly manage our relationship. The United States is committed to doing just that.”

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