China, US should be partners not rivals, says Xi

US secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, on Friday. Mark Schiefelbein

US secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, on Friday. Mark Schiefelbein

Published Apr 27, 2024


Chinese President Xi Jinping told top US diplomat Antony Blinken on Friday that the world’s biggest economies should be “partners, not rivals” as the two sides pressed for headway on a range of concerns.

Blinken, in China for the second time in less than a year, pointed to improvements in the relationship but urged greater action from Beijing on areas including curbing support for Russia.

Meeting Blinken in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Xi said the two countries had “made some positive progress” since he met with US President Joe Biden in November.

“The two countries should be partners, not rivals,” Xi said.

But he issued a warning over what China considers US pressure to curb its economy, which has included a sweeping ban on semiconductor exports and efforts to wrest blockbuster app TikTok from its Chinese owners.

“We hope the US can also take positive view of China’s development,” Xi said.

“When this fundamental problem is solved,” he said, “relations can truly stabilise, get better and move forward.”

Earlier yesterday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with Blinken in Beijing, Xinhua reported.

Wang, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said that China’s attitude has always been consistent.

China views and develops China - US relations from the world vision of building a community with a shared future for humanity.

He said China adheres to the principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win co-operation.

Wang said China’s request has always been consistent. China proposes to respect each other’s core interests, and urges the US not to interfere in China’s internal affairs, suppress China’s development, or cross China’s red lines when it comes to China’s sovereignty, security, and development interests.

Wang warned that the question of self-ruled Taiwan was the “first red line” that must not be crossed in China-US relations.

The world is waiting to see whether the two countries will lead international co-operation to address global issues and achieve win-win outcomes, or confront each other, even break out into conflicts and lead to a lose-lose situation, Wang said.

Blinken described his talks with Wang which lasted more than five and a half hours as “extensive and constructive”.

As he opened the meeting with Wang, Blinken said China and the US should manage the relationship “responsibly” and added: “I hope we make some progress on the issues our presidents agreed” on at the California summit.

The two countries should be as “clear as possible about the areas where we have differences at the very least to avoid misunderstandings, to avoid miscalculations”, Blinken said.

“That really is a shared responsibility that we have not only for our own people, but for people around the world, given the impact that our relationship has,” he said.

He announced that the two countries would in the coming weeks hold their first formal talks on managing artificial intelligence, a rising area of concern as the technology progresses rapidly.

But Blinken sounded a warning on China’s support for Russia’s “brutal war of aggression” in Ukraine, saying that Beijing – while stopping short of direct arms exports – has helped Russia ramp up production of rockets, drones and tanks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said this week he will visit China next month.

“Russia would struggle to sustain its assault on Ukraine without China’s support,” Blinken said.

But he said China has been helpful in the past, including in discouraging nuclear weapons use by Russia, and said that Wang promised to stay in touch on the Middle East, a key priority for Washington.

Pointing to China’s ties with Iran, whose shadow war with Israel has come into the open, Blinken said: “I think the relationships that China has can be positive in trying to calm tensions, to prevent escalation, avoid the spread of the conflict”.

US officials and experts believe that Xi’s foremost priority is to manage headwinds in the Chinese economy and that, at least in the short term, he is looking to avoid flare-ups with the West.

Weekend Argus