Xi Sends a Message, Meets With Blinken

US secretary of state greeted by Chinese leader in Beijing, seen as a sign of improving diplomacy
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2023 7:00 AM CDT
Xi Sends a Message, Meets With Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Monday, June 19, 2023.   (Leah Millis/Pool Photo via AP)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has wrapped up his two-day visit to China, one that culminated in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday. That the meeting took place at all is being seen as perhaps the most significant development of the trip—it was not a sure thing and was announced just 45 minutes before it occurred, a sign of the "carefully orchestrated" nature of the visit, per the Washington Post.

  • In agreeing to meet, Xi "sends a message that his government is trying to halt the downward slide in China-US relations," writes Stephen McDonell at the BBC. "Protocol would normally dictate that China’s leader only meets other heads of state in this way; however, recent tensions between Washington and Beijing possibly required a big symbolic gesture to change the trajectory between these countries."

  • The meeting "sent a signal, at least for now, that the two nations do not want their relationship to be defined by open hostility, and that they realize the enormous stakes in their rivalry and their diplomatic efforts," write Edward Wong and David Pierson at the New York Times.
  • Reuters notes that Xi greeted Blinken at the Great Hall of the People, usually reserved for heads of state, another positive sign in terms of diplomacy. The 30-minute meeting could pave the way for a summit between Xi and President Biden later this year. The latter two talked in November on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali.
  • Few details of Blinken's closed-door meetings with Xi or other top Chinese officials have been released, but the main purpose seems to have been to lower tensions rather than find specific breakthroughs. Xi praised the progress as "very good," per the AP, adding that "the two sides have had candid and in-depth discussions."
  • Blinken used similar diplo-speak afterward, describing the talks as "constructive" and "robust," but adding there is "work to do" on various issues, per the BBC. He said he raised US concerns about human rights and also tried to "disabuse our hosts" of the notion that the US is trying to "economically contain them." He reiterated that America's One China Policy has not changed—"we do not support Taiwan independence"—but said he raised concerns about "provocative actions" by China in the Taiwan Strait.
(More Antony Blinken stories.)

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