THE NEXT CALL between President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart, Joe Biden, is edging closer.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his US counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken (seen above), held a lengthy (5-hour) meeting on Saturday on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers meeting in Bali. Afterwards, Blinken suggested that the two leaders would ‘speak in the weeks ahead’.
Xi and Biden last spoke in November last year.
Reports suggest the Wang-Blinken meeting was what diplomats call candid, with Wang criticising Washington for what it regards as suppressing its rise and Blinken attacking Beijing’s support of Moscow in the war in Ukraine.
Blinken also laid out what Washington considers to be the boundaries of legitimate rivalry between the two powers. That adds some context to the unprecedented joint appearance in London last week by the heads of the US and UK domestic intelligence and security services, the FBI and MI5, calling China the ‘biggest long-term threat to [US and UK] economic and national security’.
However, by most accounts, the tone between Wang and Blinken remained professional and the discussion did not degenerate into a re-run of the infamous slanging match of the March 2021 meeting in Alaska.
A statement on the meeting issued by the Chinese embassy in Washington also warned the United States not to cross its well-known red lines, including Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang. It added that the bilateral relationship faced mounting challenges and was ‘still not out of the difficulties caused by the previous US administration’.
Blinken gave no hint about how extensively or even if the United States would roll back Trump-era punitive tariffs on Moscow. Biden said on July 8 that he had not yet decided on an issue that divides his administration.