U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi “had a direct and frank discussion on Taiwan issues on Friday,” a senior U.S. administration official said.
The two diplomats met in New York for nearly 90 minutes and their conversation focused mainly on Taiwan, the official said.
The meeting came amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing and capped off a tense week of diplomacy for Blinken at the United Nations General Assembly, where he met with a number of diplomats from around the world and delivered remarks rebuking Russia’s war in Ukraine. at the UN Security Council meeting on Thursday. It also comes as Blinken is mourning a huge personal loss — his father, Donald Blinken, died Thursday night.
The official said the meeting with Wang was “extremely frank, direct, constructive and thorough,” and Blinken emphasized “the need to maintain open lines of communication so that we can manage US-China relations responsibly, especially at a time of tension.”
“Clearly, the differences between the US and China are real, but we recognize the need to responsibly manage those differences and the competition between us,” they said.
Officials have described managing the relationship between the United States and China as one of the most important challenges facing the United States. Relations between the two countries became even more complicated after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August, after which Beijing increased its provocations against the island.
In a speech at the Asia Society on Thursday, Wang warned that “currently, the Taiwan issue is becoming the biggest risk in China-US relations.”
“If handled wrongly, it is most likely to wreak havoc on our bilateral relationship,” he said.
In an interview on “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday, US President Joe Biden was asked whether US forces are protecting Taiwan.
“Yes, when in fact there was an unprecedented attack,” he replied. US officials have said their policy on the island has not changed, and a senior administration official said Blinken made that “crystal clear” in his meeting on Friday.
He “stressed the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” the official said.
Blinken “also reiterated our strong condemnation of Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine and emphasized the consequences should China provide material support for Russia’s invasion or engage in wholesale sanctions evasion,” they said.
In recent weeks, President Vladimir Putin has described Chinese President Xi Jinping – his main ally – as having questions and concerns about the situation in Ukraine. But the officials gave no indication that the meeting left Blinken hopeful that China would take steps to counter Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.
“I think China’s position, for better or for worse, is pretty clear and consistent, and we’ve seen that through public comments,” the official said.
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said last Friday that she believes the relationship between Moscow and Beijing is “a relationship of convenience, not necessarily a relationship of trust or a relationship that unites their efforts in everything.”
“It’s not a full-blown marriage in every way, shape, or form, but they definitely work together, but they also work to benefit each other,” Sherman told Washington Post Live.
“It was quite interesting that President Putin made the remark that he knew Xi Jinping had concerns about what he was doing in Ukraine,” he said. “It’s very interesting for Putin to say that.”
Sherman said he was “certain that Xi Jinping is looking for an advantage if Russia continues its unprovoked, premeditated and horrific invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine.”
“Xi Jinping has been constantly talking about sovereignty and territorial integrity, so that doesn’t match the principles he wants for his positions, whether it’s on Hong Kong, Tibet or Taiwan,” he said.