Blinken and China’s Wang Yi discuss Ukraine war and trade

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NUSA DUA – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday he discussed Russian aggression in Ukraine during more than five hours of talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during which he expressed concern about Beijing’s alignment with Moscow. The diplomats both described their first in-person talks since October as “frank”, with the meeting taking place a day after attending a meeting of G20 foreign ministers on the Indonesian island of Bali.

“I again shared with the State Councilor that we are concerned about the alignment of the PRC with Russia,” Blinken said at a press conference after the talks, referring to the People’s Republic of China. He added that he did not believe China was behaving neutrally, as it had supported Russia at the United Nations and “amplified Russian propaganda”.

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Blinken said Chinese President Xi Jinping made it clear during a call with President Vladimir Putin on June 13 that he stood by his decision to form a partnership with Russia.

Shortly before Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, Beijing and Moscow announced a ‘limitless’ partnership, although US officials say they have not seen China escape harsh sanctions imposed by the United States on Russia or provide it with military equipment.

US officials have warned of the consequences, including sanctions, if China offers material support for the war that Moscow calls a “special military operation” to downgrade Ukraine’s military. Kyiv and its Western allies say the invasion is an unprovoked land grab.

Asked about his refusal to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the G20, Blinken said: “The problem is this: we don’t see any signs that Russia, at the moment, is ready to engage in meaningful diplomacy”.

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Wang exchanged in-depth views on “the Ukrainian issue” during the talks on Saturday, according to a statement released by his ministry, without giving details.

He also told Blinken that the direction of U.S.-China relations risked being further “misguided” due to a problem with the U.S.’s perception of China.

“A lot of people think the United States is suffering from an increasingly severe bout of ‘Sinophobia,'” Wang said.

Wang also said Washington should roll back additional tariffs imposed on China as soon as possible and stop unilateral sanctions against Chinese companies.

US officials said ahead of the talks that the meeting was aimed at keeping the rocky US-China relationship stable and preventing it from inadvertently tipping into conflict.

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“Moving forward, the United States wants our channels of communication with Beijing to remain open,” Blinken said.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in late June that US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to speak again in the coming weeks.

Daniel Russel, a senior US diplomat for East Asia under former President Barack Obama who has close contact with Biden administration officials, said ahead of the talks that a key focus of the meeting would be to explore the possibility of an in-person meeting between Biden and Xi, their first as leader, possibly on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Bali in November.

The United States calls China its main strategic rival and fears that it will one day try to take control of the democratic self-governing island of Taiwan, just as Russia attacked Ukraine.

Despite their rivalry, the world’s two largest economies remain major trading partners, and Biden is considering removing tariffs on a range of Chinese goods to curb soaring US inflation ahead of November’s midterm elections. , with Congressional scrutiny in mind. (Reporting by David Brunnstrom Stanley Widianto; Additional reporting by Ryan Woo in Beijing; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Christian Schmollinger, Robert Birsel, William Mallard and Christina Fincher)

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