China and US should be partners, not rivals, Xi tells Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken may have been in China since Wednesday evening, but it wasn’t publicly confirmed that he would meet Chinese President Xi Jinping until about an hour before the meeting. We’ve just seen TV footage of them in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Both sides are likely to be courteous, but firm, in their tone with each other, especially Beijing. In Mr Xi’s opening remarks publicly released by state media, he stuck to the measured tone he took last November when he visited San Francisco. He called for the two countries to be “partners rather than rivals” and for the US to take a “positive view of China’s development”.

But behind closed doors, he is likely to talk tough. Even before Mr Blinken arrived, China released a lengthy and robustly-worded statement outlining what they want, which essentially is an end to what they see as the US’ strategy of containing and undermining China.

Earlier today, foreign minister Wang Yi issued a warning in his meeting with Mr Blinken, asking: “Should China and the United States keep to the right direction of moving forward with stability or return to a downward spiral?”

The perennial economic disputes and longstanding issues like Taiwan and the South China Sea are likely to be on the table, made even more pertinent by the package of bills passed by US lawmakers just before Mr Blinken’s visit that sends aid to Taiwan and imposes a potential ban on TikTok.

Mr Xi will be friendly – he knows that China needs the US – but he will also show he is no pushover.


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