China’s President Xi Jinping has met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Beijing – as the world’s two biggest economies look to cool rising tensions.
It comes after Mr Blinken, who is in China for his second day of meetings, met with China’s top diplomat earlier on Monday and with foreign minister Qin Gang on Sunday.
He is the first US Secretary to visit China in five years, and also the highest-level US official to visit China since Joe Biden took office in January 2021.
The visit had been postponed from earlier in the year following the spy balloon saga, when a suspected Chinese surveillance device flew over US airspace for several days before being shot down.
Mr Blinken’s visit is expected to usher in a new round of visits by senior US and Chinese officials – possibly including a meeting between Mr Xi and Mr Biden in the coming months.
In earlier meetings between Mr Blinken and senior Chinese officials, the two sides expressed willingness to talk.
However, they showed little inclination to bend on hardened positions such as Taiwan – the self-governing island that Beijing claims as its own territory.
They are also at odds over issues ranging from trade, US efforts to hold back China’s semiconductor industry, and the ruling Communist Party’s human rights track record.
On Sunday, Mr Blinken “emphasised the importance of diplomacy and maintaining open channels of communication” during his meeting with Mr Gang, according to a statement by the US State Department.
Regular talks would “reduce the risk of misperception and miscalculation,” the department added in their statement.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that Mr Blinken’s visit “coincides with a critical juncture in China-US” relations.
It also blamed the US’s “erroneous perception” of China for the current “low point” in relations and called for the US to lift unilateral sanctions and the suppression of its technology.