Top diplomats from US, China hold 'constructive' talks on issues dividing them

AP , Saturday 17 Feb 2024

Top diplomats from the U.S. and China on Friday held a “candid and constructive” discussion on issues vexing their strained relations over Taiwan, the situation in the South China Sea, Russia’s war against Ukraine and synthetic opioids, the State Department said.

Munich Con
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi shake hands during their meeting at the Munich Security Conference, in Munich, Germany, Friday, Feb. 16, 2024. AP


The meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference marked the latest and highest-level meeting between the two sides since U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks late last year in California.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Blinken emphasized the importance of maintaining peace in the Taiwan Strait as well as expanding on nascent counternarcotics efforts. Blinken also raised concerns about China's support for Russia’s defense industrial base that Washington sees as helping Moscow’s military operations against Ukraine.

“The two sides had a candid and constructive discussion on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues as part of ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication and responsibly manage competition in the relationship,” Miller said.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Wang called on the U.S. to remove sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals.

Wang emphasized that Washington's policy of “de-risking” economically from Beijing “has become ‘de-Sinicizing,’ ‘building a tall fence’ and ‘de-coupling from China’” and "will come back to bite the U.S. itself,” according to a Ministry readout Saturday morning.

He also called on the U.S. to stop searches of Chinese nationals. Recently, Chinese state media published reports of Chinese citizens being searched at the U.S. border.

In one prominent case, a group of students led by their professor, Xie Tao from Beijing Foreign Studies University, were interrogated for three hours upon arriving at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, according to Xinhua. Xie is the dean of the School of International Relations and Diplomacy at the University.

Wang affirmed that cooperation to combat the spread of fentanyl was going “positively” and would continue, as well as the agreement to keep military-to-military communications. Both sides also discussed the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza and the war in Ukraine.

Blinken “reiterated that the United States will stand up for our interests and values and those of our allies and partners,” Miller said, adding that the current situations in the Middle East and with North Korea had also been topics of conversation.

“Both sides recognized the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between the United States and (China) across a range of strategic issues, including consultations and high-level meetings in key areas in the coming months,” he said.

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