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Blinken tells Wang Yi both sides must avoid miscalculations

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) shakes hands with China’s Director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Wang Yi at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on June 19, 2023. (Photo by Leah MILLIS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by LEAH MILLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Leah Millis | Afp | Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday emphasized the need for the U.S. and China to avoid “miscalculations” and “misunderstandings.”

Speaking in Beijing ahead of a closed-door meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Blinken said there is no substitute for “face-to-face diplomacy.”

Both sides need to make sure “that we’re as clear as possible about the areas where we have differences, at the very least to avoid misunderstandings, to avoid miscalculations,” he told reporters.

His latest trip to China comes as the two countries seek to stabilize ties in their tense relations, as they battle for tech supremacy, as well as economic and political dominance.

In his remarks, Wang told Blinken that U.S.-China relations are “beginning to stabilize” with increased dialogue and cooperation.

“This is welcomed by our two peoples and the international community,” he said, but warned that “negative factors” are rising and building, and that’s causing “all kinds of disruptions.”

“China’s legitimate development rights have been unreasonably suppressed and our core interests are facing challenges,” he said, telling Washington “not to step on China’s red lines.”

President Joe Biden met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in San Francisco last year on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference.

In early April, during a call with Xi — the first such phone meeting since July 2022 — Biden raised a host of U.S. concerns, according to a White House readout of the call.

Fraught ties

Tensions have been simmering for years, from the trade war to the fallout over China’s alleged spy balloon over U.S. skies. More recently, the U.S. has accused China of aiding Russia’s military effort in Ukraine.

Ahead of Blinken’s visit, a senior State Department official said America’s top diplomat was planning to warn Beijing against supporting Russia’s efforts to rebuild its defense base, that threatens to undermine European security.

On Thursday, Blinken met with Shanghai’s Communist Party Secretary Chen Jining, and “raised concerns about trade policies and non-market economic practices,” according to the U.S. State Department.

He stressed that “the United States seeks a healthy economic competition” with China and a level-playing field for U.S. workers and firms operating in the country, spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.

This was Blinken’s second trip to China after a high-stakes diplomatic mission to cool U.S.-China tensions in June last year.

It remains unclear if the Secretary of State will meet with Xi Jinping during this trip.

It is important to demonstrate that “we’re managing responsibly the most consequential relationship,” Blinken said Friday.

“I hope we can make some progress on the issues that our presidents agreed we should cooperate on, but also clarify our differences, our intent, and make very clear to each other where we stand.”

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