New York: Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Monday with China’s vice president on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly as the Biden administration and Beijing step up high-level contacts ahead of what could be a leader-level summit this fall.
Blinken and Vice President Han Zheng held talks Monday at the Chinese mission to the United Nations. Their discussion came as China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi was in Moscow meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov after wrapping up two days of talks with U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan in Malta.
The quick succession of U.S.-China contacts is fueling speculation that President Joe Biden may meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in November at an Asia-Pacific Economic conference in San Francisco.
“I think it’s a good thing that we have this opportunity to build on the recent high-level engagements that our countries have had to make sure that we’re maintaining open communications and demonstrate that we are responsibly managing the relationship between our two countries,” Blinken said in brief remarks at the top of the meeting.
Han told Blinken that U.S.-China relations face “difficulties and challenges” that require both countries to show “more sincerity” and make additional efforts to “meet each other halfway.”
Blinken visited Beijing over the summer after canceling a planned trip there in February following the shootdown of a Chinese surveillance balloon over U.S. territory. Blinken was followed to Beijing by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, climate envoy John Kerry and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
“From the perspective of the United States, face-to-face diplomacy is the best way to deal with areas where we disagree and also the best way to explore areas of cooperation between us,” Blinken said. “The world expects us to responsibly manage our relationship. The United States is committed to doing just that.”
The White House said last Sunday that Sullivan’s meeting with Wang in Malta was intended to “responsibly maintain the relationship” at a time of strained ties and mutual suspicion between the rival powers. It said the pair had “candid, substantive and constructive discussions.”