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U.S., China Restart High-Level Discussions

During meetings this week, the U.S. and China attempted to restore high-level bilateral interactions and reverse the tension growing between the two nations, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

What’s going on: “During two days of meetings in Beijing, [U.S. Secretary of State Antony] Blinken and senior Chinese foreign-policy officials agreed to more high-level talks, continuing a thaw after months of near-frozen contacts.”

  • “They also promised to find common ground on increasing flights between the two countries and combating the flow of fentanyl into the U.S.”

The background: In recent months, U.S.–China relations have been on a downward trend, following U.S. detection of what the Biden administration said was a Chinese spy balloon.

  • Last year, the U.S. imposed restrictions on the export of certain advanced technology to China and is expected to issue new limits on U.S. investments overseas.
  • China has taken issue with these moves, as well as with U.S. support for ally Taiwan.
  • Some 67% of Americans say China is a “major threat” to the U.S., according to a Pew Research Center questionnaire. That’s up from 43% in 2015.

Topics discussed: During his visit, Blinken raised a number of issues, including tensions over Taiwan and North Korean aggression. He also discussed China’s trade-distorting practices, human rights violations, imprisonment of U.S. citizens and position on Russia’s war against Ukraine, according to POLITICO.

  • The meetings also touched on areas of mutual interest, including climate, macroeconomic stability, food security and public health.

What didn’t happen: Blinken’s visit to China—the first by a U.S. cabinet member in more than four years—did not produce substantive advancement on the above issues. However, the meeting served as a starting point for future high-level communications.

  • Officials did not address Chinese intelligence movements in Cuba or the establishment of “a military communication channel between the countries to address frequent incidents around Taiwan … a key goal of the Biden administration.”

​​​​​​​Business with China: “Blinken said he also met with members of the U.S. business community on Monday, many of whom expressed a desire to continue to grow their operations in China,” according to POLITICO.

  • “He said a full decoupling of the American and Chinese economies would be disastrous, pointing to record trade between the two last year, but said the U.S. would continue to take steps to make American supply chains more resilient and deny China technologies that threaten U.S. national security.”
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