Blinken’s cisit to China: Fair expectations

By Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken concluded his visit to China during which he met with high officials of China including President Xi Jinping and the Foreign Minister Wang Yi and discussed wide range of topics not confined to stumbling economic ties because of imposition of unilateral sanctions, persisted protectionism, US’s military misadventures in Asia Pacific region, arming and instigating cooperation with Taiwan, boiling Middle East, Russia-Ukraine conflict, human rights and last but not least, intentional incursions in South China Sea. However, many Chinese experts termed these series of talks as generally positive.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry termed meetings with Blinken as candid, substantive and constructive. Additionally, the Chinese President Xi while meeting with the US Secretary of State Bliken expounded China’s authoritative position on China-US relations and proposed guidance.

The Chinese president showed China’s willingness to cooperate with the US and termed cooperation as a two-way street. Furthermore, Xi emphasized that bilateral competition should be about common progress, not a zero-sum game which is indeed the right way to move forward.

He rightly suggested that China and the US should be partners rather than rivals and help each other succeed rather than hurt each other, seeking common ground and reserve differences rather than engage in vicious competition; and honor words with actions rather than say one thing but do another.

Xi said China is committed to non-alliance, and the US should not create small blocs, adding that each side can have its friends and partners; it should not target, oppose or harm the other.

Wang Yi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the Chinese Foreign Minister held talks with Blinken during which the two sides reached a five-point consensus based on a comprehensive exchange of views.

It is indeed a new road map for further strengthening of bilateral relations through hard and joint working in accordance with the guidance of the two heads of state through  maintaining high-level exchanges and contacts at all levels.

Moreover, the two sides announced that they would hold the first meeting of the China-US intergovernmental dialogue on artificial intelligence, continue to advance consultations on the principles guiding China-US relations, hold a new round of China-US consultations on Asia-Pacific affairs and China-US maritime affairs, and continue consular consultations. The two countries’ anti-drug working group will hold a senior officials meeting.

Furthermore, expansion of cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries welcome students from each other’s countries and work together for the success of the 14th China-US Tourism Leadership Summit to be held in Xi’an in May. The two sides will maintain consultations on international and regional hotspot issues and strengthen communication between the special envoys of the two sides.

It seems that Blinken’s visit has achieved some positive results, with the five-point consensus reached by both sides essentially continuing the consensus reached by the two leaders in San Francisco.

Only time will tell whether the US can guarantee that it will effectively manage differences and expand cooperation through action, especially when the US is in the election year. It seems that the development of China-US relations in the future will continue to be full of contradictions and surprises and it is unlikely to truly stabilize or significantly improve unfortunately. The hawks sitting in Biden’s government will intentionally use US-China relations as domestic political consumption to win the electoral battle.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi while meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Beijing emphasized on the honoring of China’s core national interests pertaining to its sovereignty, security and development mainly One China Principle towards, Taiwan, Asia Pacific and South China Sea which should not be eroded by the US.

Thus the US should respect three US-China joint communiques and not send the wrong signals to “Taiwan independence” separatist forces in any way. Moreover, it should not be used as a tool to contain China, and stop arming Taiwan island and support China’s peaceful reunification.

Moreover, the US should not try to contain China’s economic development, seeking to exercise decoupling, ban on China’s technological progress, stop promoting the false narrative of China’s overcapacity, lift illegal sanctions on Chinese companies, and cease imposing tariffs that violate WTO rules. Therefore, the Asia-Pacific region should not become a battlefield for major powers and deployment of land-based intermediate-range missiles should be stopped.

Blinken ensured that the US continues to follow a one-China policy, does not support “Taiwan independence,” seeks no change in China’s system, has no intention of conflict with China, seeks no “decoupling” from China, and does not seek to contain China’s development. A successfully developed China is good for the world, according to a readout released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

In summary, the US president’s constant threatening statements and incongruous actions of imposing new tariffs on Chinese steel and a probe into Chinese shipbuilding after the visit of US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s five-day visit to China are giving confusing signals.

In addition, President Biden holding of the first trilateral summit between the U.S., Japan and the Philippines in April 2024 has created security threats in the region clearly indicating the US unstoppable policies of China’s containment.

Moreover, the U.S. is planning to place medium-range missiles in the Philippines which could strike at Chinese targets on the mainland. Only time will tell about the serious intentions of the US government to establish good economic ties with China; however, its political maneuvering, economic encroachment and military alliances clearly indicate anti-China policies in the region.

The author is Executive Director of The Center for South & International Studies (CSAIS) Islamabad.

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