U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Chinese President Xi Jinping Monday, in the highest-level diplomatic contact between the two countries since President Joe Biden took office.
Any contact at all is a significant step forward for the two nations. The U.S. says since 2021, China has declined or not responded to requests for high-level meetings.
Now Blinken and Xi have agreed to “stabilize” the delicate and recently deteriorated relationship between the two countries. Chinese diplomat Yang Tao said the meeting represented “a new beginning” for the two nations.
But the meeting ended Monday without China agreeing to reestablishing military contacts with the U.S., which the U.S. says is a critical step toward lowering tensions, particularly related to Taiwan.
China considers the self-governing island of Taiwan to be part of its territory, and frequently responds to activity in nearby international waters and airspace that it considers provocative.
The U.S. has sanctioned China in response to what it calls threats to its security. China says those sanctions have stalled further military cooperation.
“The U.S. side is surely aware of why there is difficulty in military-to-military exchanges,” Yang said.
“It is absolutely vital that we have these kinds of communications,” Blinken told reporters, referring to contact between the militaries. “This is something we’re going to keep working on.”
Despite that impasse, and despite few concrete steps toward other policy changes, Blinken and Xi both said the talks were productive and satisfactory, and remained open to more talks in the future.