US and China Foreign Ministers discuss ways to reduce tensions

The US and Chinese foreign ministers hope to prevent bilateral tensions from spiraling out of control at a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia today.

US officials said the meeting between Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Bali, Indonesia, today consisted of a morning session and a working lunch. This is the first meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries since October 2021, aiming to keep bilateral relations stable and avoid escalating tensions into conflicts.

“There is no substitute for direct diplomacy. There are many issues to be discussed in a relationship as complex and important as that between the US and China,” Mr. Blinken told reporters before starting the meeting. “We look forward to having a productive, constructive dialogue.”

The US secretary of state is expected to continue to warn China not to support Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine. The two sides will also discuss controversial issues such as Taiwan, human rights, Beijing’s expanding influence in the Pacific region and trade tariffs.

Preparations for the virtual talks between the leaders of the two countries, scheduled to take place in the next few weeks, may also be mentioned.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia July 9, 2022. Stefani Reynolds/Pool via REUTERS

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken (right) shakes hands with his counterpart Wang Yi at the meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, on July 9. Image: Reuters.

According to Wang, Chinese President Xi Jinping believes in cooperation and “mutual respect” between the world’s two largest economies, and the two sides need “normal exchanges”.

“At the same time, we also need to work together to ensure that bilateral relations continue to move in the right direction,” he added.

However, neither side is expecting a major breakthrough at the meeting. Daniel Kritenbrink, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asia affairs, previously said Mr Blinken would “do everything possible to ensure we avoid miscalculations that could inadvertently lead to conflict”.

After a long time of cooling off during the Covid-19 pandemic, high-level US-China contacts on defense, finance and national security resumed last month. The Global Times, a newspaper of the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China, said the increased diplomatic interaction “shows that the two sides agree to avoid escalation”.

The US stance on China has grown increasingly tough in recent years and the administration of President Joe Biden has maintained the approach of his predecessor Donald Trump, seeing Beijing as the main rival in the world. However, Mr. Biden is expected to partially lift tariffs on Chinese goods from the Trump era to cool inflation ahead of the midterm congressional elections in November.

Like Tam (Theo AFP, Reuters)

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