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China, U.S. Agree to Keep up Dialogue, Qin Invited to Washington

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken agreed Sunday in Beijing that their countries will keep up a dialogue amid heightened bilateral tensions over Taiwan and other issues, with Qin invited to Washington to continue the discussions, the two governments said.

Blinken emphasized the importance of “maintaining open channels of communication across the full range of issues to reduce the risk of misperception and miscalculation” and agreed with Qin to schedule a reciprocal visit at “a mutually suitable time,” the State Department said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (2nd from R) meets with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang (2nd from L) at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on June 18, 2023. (Pool photo/AP/Kyodo)

On Taiwan, which Beijing regards as its own, Qin warned against U.S. interference in issues surrounding the self-ruled democratic island, saying it is “at the core of China’s core interests” and “the most prominent risk,” according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

During the talks, which lasted for five and a half hours, Blinken also raised opportunities to explore cooperation on shared transnational issues where the interests of the two countries align, the State Department said.

Blinken is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit China under the administration of President Joe Biden, who took office in January 2021.

Prior to the talks, the Chinese minister welcomed Blinken at the door of a building in the capital’s Diaoyutai State Guesthouse before walking together toward the flags of the two countries, where they firmly shook hands.

The ministerial talks could pave the way for a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Biden later this year.

The U.S. president told reporters Saturday in Maryland, “I’m hoping that, over the next several months, I’ll be meeting with Xi again and talking about legitimate differences we have, but also how there’s areas we can get along.”

During his two-day stay in Beijing through Monday, Blinken is also expected to hold talks with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, and possibly Xi.

Blinken’s China trip, agreed upon by Biden and Xi last November during a meeting in Indonesia, was abruptly postponed from February after a suspected Chinese spy balloon was detected flying across the United States.

The nations with the world’s two largest economies have been at odds over not just Taiwan but a range of other issues. Beijing regards Taiwan as its own territory to be eventually reunified with the mainland by force if necessary, while the countries have divergent views on human rights, as well as territorial disputes in the South and East China seas.

As the strategic rivalry between the United States and China heats up, other countries are especially concerned about the risk of miscalculation or unintended military actions by either of the two powers.

China severed military-to-military communication channels with the United States after then House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last August, becoming the most senior U.S. official to set foot on the island in a quarter century.

Source: Kyodo News