After talks with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Chinese President Xi Jinping said both sides had “made progress”.
President Xi Jinping said China and the United States had made “progress” on a number of issues during the visit of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
The roughly 30-minute meeting with Xi on Monday was Blinken’s final engagement in a closely watched trip that included talks with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi and Foreign Minister Qin Gang.
It is hoped that the two-day talks could lead to a meeting between US President Joe Biden and Xi this year. They last met on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, in November, pledging more frequent contact although relations have since deteriorated over espionage concerns from Taiwan.
“The Chinese side has clarified our position, and both sides have agreed to follow the general understanding that President Biden and I reached in Bali,” Xi told the US secretary of state, adding that “the two sides have also made progress” and reached consensus on certain issues.
During the otherwise closed-door talks, Xi said China “hopes to see a stable and stable Sino-US relationship” and believes the two countries can “overcome various difficulties”, according to a read by China’s state news agency Xinhua.
He urged the United States “not to harm China’s legitimate rights and interests.”
Blinken said the two countries “have an obligation and a responsibility” to manage their relationship, and the US is “committed to doing that”.
He later said he agreed with China’s leadership on the need to “stabilize” relations but was “clear-eyed” about the huge differences.
“In every meeting, I emphasize that direct involvement and sustained communication at the senior level is the best way to manage differences with responsibility and ensure that competition does not lead to conflict,” Blinken told reporters in Beijing.
“I have heard the same from my Chinese counterparts. We both agree on the need to stabilize our relationship.”
But Blinken said the US is “clear-eyed” about the challenges posed by China.
“We have no illusions about the challenges of managing this relationship. There are many issues on which we deeply — even vehemently — disagree,” Blinken said.
Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu, reporting from Beijing, described Blinken’s visit as “a positive sign, a sign of good faith, a sign of respect” as they seek to repair their strained relationship.
He said that while a “long list” of disagreements remained, the meeting represented some “small victories” and that more high-level meetings between Washington and Beijing were expected.
Despite the positive signals from Blinken’s visit, Beijing was unequivocal in its position that major disagreements remain.
Wang Yi, director of the Office of China’s Central Foreign Affairs Commission, met with Blinken on Monday.
During the meeting, Wang blamed the United States for the deterioration of their relationship as he insisted that Taiwan, a self-governing democratic island that Beijing claims as its own, is its “core interest” and there is “no room” for compromise.
China’s Foreign Ministry later wrote in a statement that Blinken’s visit “coincides with a critical juncture in China-US relations, and it requires a choice between dialogue or confrontation, cooperation or conflict”. It blamed the current “low state” of relations on “US side’s misperception of China, wrong policy towards China”.
US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller called the talks with Wang “candid and productive”.
On Sunday, Keane’s meeting with Blinken lasted more than seven and a half hours. Later, Beijing released a readout of the meeting, which showed several positive outcomes, including an agreement to increase commercial flights between the countries.
Liu Fu-kuo, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University in Taiwan, told Al Jazeera that the Blinken-Xi talks appeared to be “a positive note for the region”.
“It is too early to say if the tension in bilateral relations will melt. At least, China responded with a positive response. Talks could resume, and a summit later this year could be promising. This visit indicates such an encouraging step by the two.”