Blinken in China

During his recent visit to Beijing, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese officials engaged in extensive discussions spanning almost six hours, aiming to mend the frayed ties between the two superpowers. Despite the candid exchange of disagreements, both parties expressed cautious optimism about making incremental progress in areas like military communication and efforts to control substances used in the production of fentanyl.

In a series of meetings that also included an encounter with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Blinken highlighted the initiation of a new dialogue on artificial intelligence, reflecting mutual concerns over the technology’s potential military applications. “Even as we seek to deepen cooperation where our interests align, the United States is very clear-eyed about the challenges posed by [China] and our competing visions for the future,” Blinken remarked during a press briefing post-meetings.

One pressing issue that remains unresolved is China’s support for Russia’s defense sector, which is crucial for the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Blinken underscored the importance of addressing this issue, hinting at potential U.S. actions if China fails to curb its support.

Recovering Relations

Relations have shown signs of recovery since Blinken’s last visit, which was marred by tensions following the incident of a Chinese surveillance balloon drifting over U.S. territory. Regular dialogues have since resumed, helping to manage the complex relationship between the world’s largest economies.

During his talks, Xi emphasized the necessity of viewing China’s development positively to stabilize and advance bilateral relations. Meanwhile, Blinken and Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat, openly discussed various contentious issues, including military communications and the sensitive topic of Taiwan.

Wang Yi offered a mixed assessment, acknowledging a stabilization in relations but also noting ongoing challenges and tensions. He cautioned against a descent into rivalry and potential conflict, especially concerning artificial intelligence and the South China Sea, where China’s expansive claims have caused friction.

Concerns Remain

These discussions occur against broader geopolitical dynamics, including recent U.S. dialogues with leaders from the Philippines and Japan, which have stirred concerns in Beijing about being strategically encircled.