September 24, 2022

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The foreign ministers of the United States and China are holding their first personal talks since October

The foreign ministers of the United States and China are holding their first personal talks since October

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met on Saturday for their first in-person talks since October after attending the G20 summit, where the U.S. diplomat led efforts to pressure Russia. Because of the war in Ukraine.

US officials say Blinken’s meeting with Wang in Bali, Indonesia, including a morning talk session and working lunch, is aimed at keeping the difficult US relationship with China stable and preventing it from inadvertently veering into conflict. Read more

“There is no substitute for face-to-face diplomacy,” Blinken told reporters at the start of the meeting.

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“We are very much looking forward to a fruitful and constructive dialogue,” he said.

Blinken is expected to reiterate his warnings to China not to support Russia’s war in Ukraine, and the two sides will address contentious issues involving Taiwan, China’s extensive claims in the South China Sea, its expansion of influence in the Pacific, human rights, and trade tariffs.

However, the two sides share an interest in maintaining the stability of the relationship, and Blinken and US officials say President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to speak again in the coming weeks, something that Saturday’s meeting is likely to address.

“China and the United States are two major countries, so it is necessary for the two countries to maintain normal exchanges,” Wang told reporters.

“At the same time, we need to talk together to ensure that this relationship continues to move forward on the right track,” Wang said.

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Daniel Russell, a senior US diplomat for East Asia under former President Barack Obama who has close contact with Biden administration officials, said he believed the main objective of the meeting would be to explore the possibility of a personal meeting between Biden and Xi. For the first time as leaders, perhaps on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Bali in November.

The United States describes China as its main strategic rival and worries that it may one day try to gain control of the self-ruled, democratic island of Taiwan, just as Russia attacked Ukraine.

The top US diplomat for East Asia, Daniel Krettenbrink, said on Tuesday that he expected a “frank” exchange with Wang, and said it would be another opportunity to “communicate our expectations about what we expect China to do and what not to do in the context of Ukraine.”

Shortly before the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Beijing and Moscow announced a “borderless” partnership. But US officials said they did not see China evading tough US-led sanctions on Russia or supplying it with military equipment.

However, China refused to condemn Russia’s actions and criticized the sweeping sanctions.

US officials have warned of the consequences, including sanctions, if China begins providing material support to Russia’s war effort, which it calls a “special military operation” to weaken the Ukrainian military even though Kyiv is dismissive of it as an imperial-style land grab.

Despite their strategic rivalry, the world’s two largest economies remain major trading partners, and Biden is considering eliminating tariffs on a range of Chinese goods to curb rising US inflation ahead of November’s midterm elections, with an eye on congressional control. Read more

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(This story has been paraphrased to edit the headline to show first personal conversations)

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Additional reporting by Ryan Wu in Beijing. Written by Ed Davies. Editing by Christian Schmolinger, Robert Percel

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.