In Bali, Chinese and Americans renew dialogue
It was a five-hour interview that obviously lowered the temperature between Beijing and Washington. The heads of Chinese and American diplomacy, Wang Yi and Antony Blinken, met at length on Saturday, July 9, in the Indonesian island of Bali, a rare and unusual event which should lead to the resumption of a high-level dialogue. between the United States and China.
“I can say with some confidence that our delegations found today’s discussions useful, frank and constructive” said Antony Blinken. « The two sides, on the basis of reciprocity and mutual benefit, have reached consensus to ensure that the China-US joint working group achieves more results. » said the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
These discussions, the day after the meeting of G20 foreign ministers, do not erase the issues of tension. The US Secretary of State did not fail to mention that Beijing’s increasing military pressure on Taiwan remains a problem for Washington and he also asked his Chinese counterpart to condemn « aggression » Russian against Ukraine.
Beijing and Washington have nevertheless taken precautionary measures to prevent their differences from escalating into an uncontrollable conflict. The United States will seek “to do everything possible to prevent any miscalculation which could inadvertently lead to a conflict”declared, before the meeting, the most senior American diplomat for East Asia, Daniel Kritenbrink. “China and the United States are two big countries, so it is necessary for the two countries to maintain normal exchanges”said Wang Yi before the meeting.
Chinese economy in trouble
US President Joe Biden recently indicated that his country was not seeking to trigger a new » cold War « , even if he maintained his criticisms, in particular by accusing Beijing of genocide against the Uyghur people, mainly Muslim. The headwinds affecting the Chinese economy would explain, in part, the desire of Chinese leaders to “normalize” their relations with the United States.
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For its part, the Biden administration could soon relax some of the customs surcharges imposed by Donald Trump on Chinese products, a way of mitigating inflation, a big subject of concern in the United States.
A series of high-level contacts
After several months of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, US officials are once again focusing on China, which has been identified as the most important long-term strategic threat to the United States. Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, met last month in Europe with Yang Jiechi, a senior Chinese diplomat.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III saw his Chinese counterpart a few days later in Singapore. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen held a videoconference with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in July. And US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley spoke last week by phone with his counterpart, Li Zuocheng.
The question now was whether Joe Biden and Xi Jinping will meet, for the first time, in person, most likely, on the sidelines of the G20 summit in November. A way to stabilize the relationship between the two superpowers in a period of turbulence for the United States and China.