A senior US administration official said US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi “exchanged direct and honest exchanges on Taiwan-related issues” on Friday.
The official said the two diplomats met for nearly 90 minutes in New York, and their conversation mainly focused on Taiwan.
The meeting took place amid a period of heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing and culminated in a busy week of diplomacy for Blinkin at the United Nations General Assembly, where he met with a string of fellow diplomats from around the world and made statements belittling the Russian war in Ukraine. At a meeting of the UN Security Council Thursday. It also came at a time of Blinken’s grief over a tragic personal loss – his father, Donald Blinken, passed away Thursday night.
According to the official, the meeting with Wang was “very frank, direct, constructive and in-depth,” and Blinken stressed “the need to maintain open lines of communication so that we can manage US-China relations responsibly, especially in times of tension.”
“The differences between the United States and China are clearly real, but we recognize the need to manage these differences responsibly 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 more strained after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August, after which Beijing increased its provocations toward the island.
In a speech at the Asia Society on Thursday, Wang warned that “under the current situation, the Taiwan issue is growing to become the biggest danger in Sino-US relations.”
“If mishandled, it will most likely destroy our bilateral relations,” he said.
US President Joe Biden, in an interview titled “60 Minutes” broadcast Sunday, was asked whether US forces would defend Taiwan.
He replied, “Yes, if in reality there was an unprecedented attack.” US officials said their policy toward the island has not changed, and according to a senior administration official, Blinken made this “crystal clear” in his Friday meeting.
“He stressed the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits,” the official said.
They said Blinken “also reiterated our strong condemnation of Russia’s gratuitous war against Ukraine, and highlighted the implications if China were to provide material support for the Russian invasion or engage in wholesale sanctions evasion.”
In recent weeks, President Vladimir Putin has described Chinese President Xi Jinping – a key ally of him – as having questions and concerns about the situation in Ukraine. But officials gave no indication that the meeting left Blinken with any expectation that China was planning to take action to oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I think the Chinese position, for better or worse, is very clear and consistent and we’ve seen that through the 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 convenient relationship, not necessarily a relationship of trust or a relationship that will bring their efforts into everything.”
“This is not a perfect marriage in all respects, shape and form, but they will certainly work together, but they will also work for each other,” Sherman said in a conversation with The Washington Post Live.
“It was interesting that President Putin remarked that he knew Xi Jinping had concerns about what he was doing in Ukraine,” she said. “Very exciting for Putin to say that.”
Sherman said she was “sure that Xi Jinping is looking for an advantage while Russia continues its unprovoked, premeditated and horrific invasion of Ukraine, a sovereign country.”
“Xi Jinping has constantly talked about sovereignty and territorial integrity, so this is not in line with the principles he wants for his views, whether it is about Hong Kong, Tibet or Taiwan,” she said.