US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) shakes hands with China’s President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 19, 2023. President Xi Jinping hosted Antony Blinken for talks in Beijing on June 19, capping two days of high-level talks by the US secretary of state with Chinese officials. (Photo by Leah MILLIS / POOL / AFP)
(AFP) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday he agreed with China‘s leadership on the need to “stabilise” relations but that he was “clear-eyed” on vast disagreements.
“In every meeting, I stressed that direct engagement and sustained communication at senior levels is the best way to responsibly manage differences and ensure that competition does not veer into conflict,” Blinken told reporters in Beijing after two days of talks.
“I heard the same from my Chinese counterparts. We both agree on the need to stabilise our relationship.”
But Blinken said he was “clear-eyed” about China, whose relations with the United States have sharply deteriorated in recent years.
“We have no illusions about the challenges of managing this relationship. There are many issues on which we profoundly — even vehemently — disagree,” Blinken said.
Rejecting a major line of criticism from China, Blinken insisted that President Joe Biden was not seeking “economic containment” of Beijing through its sweeping ban on exports of high-end semiconductors.
“We want to see growth. We want to see success in every part of the world, including, of course, in the major economies like China,” Blinken said.
“But at the same time,” he said, “it’s not in our interest to provide technology to China that could be used against us.
“And at a time when it’s engaged in a build-up of its nuclear weapons programme in a very opaque way, when it’s producing hypersonic missiles, when it’s using technology for repressive purposes, how is it in our interest to provide those specific technologies to China?
“Other countries feel the same way,” he said.
– Assurances on Taiwan –
China has pointed to Taiwan as a main area of disagreement.
Beijing claims the self-governing democracy, which buys weapons from Washington, and has not ruled out using force to seize it.
Blinken repeated that the United States does not support the independence of Taiwan and stood by its stance of maintaining the status quo.
“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,” he said.
On another regional issue, Blinken said he spoke to China about using its influence over its ally North Korea, which has fired a volley of rockets and has rebuffed offers of talks with the Biden administration.
“All members of the international community have an interest in encouraging the DPRK to act responsibly to stop launching missiles, to start engaging on its nuclear programme,” said Blinken, using the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“China‘s in a unique position to press Pyongyang to engage in dialogue and to end its dangerous behaviour.”
© Agence France-Presse