Blinken opens second day of talks in Beijing on mission to ease soaring US-China tensions

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference with Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan at the State Department, Friday, June 16, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

BEIJING — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has opened a second and final day of critical meetings with senior Chinese officials as the two sides expressed willingness to talk but showed little inclination to bend on hardened positions that have sent tensions soaring.

Blinken was meeting Monday morning with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi and an encounter with President Xi Jinping was still in the cards before he departs in the late evening.


Neither Blinken nor Wang made any comment to reporters as they greeted each other and sat for their discussion.

In the first round of talks on Sunday, Blinken met for nearly six hours with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang after which both countries said they had agreed to continue high-level discussions. However, there was no sign that any of the most fractious issues between them were closer to resolution.

The two sides both said Qin had accepted an invitation from Blinken to visit Washington but Beijing made clear that “the China-U.S. relationship is at the lowest point since its establishment.” That sentiment is widely shared by U.S. officials.

The State Department said Blinken had stressed “the importance of diplomacy and maintaining open channels of communication across the full range of issues to reduce the risk of misperception and miscalculation.”

The Chinese, meanwhile, restated their position that the current state of relations “does not serve the fundamental interests of the two peoples or meet the shared expectations of the international community,” according to the foreign ministry.

Blinken is the highest-level American official to visit China since President Joe Biden took office and his two-day trip comes after his initial plans to travel to China were postponed in February after the shootdown of a Chinese surveillance balloon over the U.S.

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