Top US and China envoys meet in New York during UN General Assembly

September 23, 2022 GMT

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met in New York on Friday, the latest round of high-level talks between the two powers amid soaring tensions over human rights, trade policy and Taiwan.

A readout from the US State Department said they spoke about Taiwan, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and potential cooperation “where our interests intersect”.

“The secretary discussed the need to maintain open lines of communication and responsibly manage the US-PRC relationship, especially during times of tension,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

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Blinken also “highlighted the implications if the PRC were to provide support to Moscow’s invasion of a sovereign state,” Price said.

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A readout of the meeting from the Chinese government was not immediately available.

The two top diplomats met on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly, where earlier in the week US President Joe Biden portrayed Beijing as ignoring UN principles with policies that target ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and its build-up of nuclear arms.

“We do not seek a Cold War,” Biden said in his speech on Wednesday. “But the United States will be unabashed in promoting our vision of a free, open, secure and prosperous world.”

Wang is expected to address the assembly on Saturday in place of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who is not attending the General Assembly this year.

Blinken and Wang last met in July, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Bali, Indonesia.

In the weeks since, US-China tensions, already high, have climbed further. US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi flew to Taiwan in August, meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen and other government officials.

Upon Pelosi’s departure, Beijing conducted lengthy, large-scale, live-fire PLA drills around the island, which observers said amounted to an effective blockade.

China also cut off a number of high-level communication lines with Washington after Pelosi’s visit, including military and climate talks.

Next week, US Vice-President Kamala Harris will travel to Japan and South Korea, and is expected to discuss the situation in the Taiwan Strait with leaders there too.

“Obviously, Japan, the Republic of Korea, you know, have a lot at stake in Taiwan and the region,” a senior administration official said at a background briefing on Friday.

Reuters reported that, in addition to Blinken, Wang met separately with the US climate envoy, John Kerry, in New York on Friday.

Since Biden took office in January 2021, he and Xi have yet to meet in person. The two leaders have spoken by phone five times, and also spent extensive time together when Biden was vice-president during the Barack Obama administration.

Biden has said he and Xi could meet at the G20 meeting in Indonesia ” expected to take place in November ” if both men attend.

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Xi had not travelled overseas during the majority of the coronavirus pandemic, and only made his first trip abroad ” a swing through neighbouring Central Asia ” earlier this month.

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia. For more SCMP stories, please download our mobile app, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

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