The talks between US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Wang Yi, head of the office of the CPC Central Committee Foreign Affairs Commission, are regarded by observers as a kind of prelude to the upcoming meeting of US President Joseph Biden with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in the fall. A day earlier, Blinken spoke with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang (in China, two top government officials are responsible for foreign relations). Such diplomatic events always affect Moscow's interests to some extent, forcing it to adjust its foreign policy course depending on the position taken by the friendly Beijing.
Everyone has their own truth
The visit took place at the initiative of the American side. He confirmed the status quo of partner positions and restored the usual diplomatic regime between the two countries. A circulated press release said the talks were "frank, meaningful and constructive." By the way, US secretaries of state have not visited China since 2018, which says a lot. In particular, that trust between the two superpowers is now at its lowest level in the last 30 years. And, as you know, Blinken's current visit to the Celestial Empire is caused by the need to improve relations lost due to the incident with the Chinese stratospheric balloon in the sky of North America at the beginning of the year.
Then, under the influence of circumstances, the Secretary of State canceled the planned visit to Beijing. This caused annoyance and dissatisfaction with the Chinese side, who said that, supposedly, an ordinary misunderstanding crossed out the progress in stabilizing contacts (the Chinese claimed from the very beginning that the probe was launched to study climate processes, but deviated from the planned route). And the crisis in relations was completed by the February security conference in Munich, where the United States suspected China of secret military support of the Russian Federation against Ukraine. China reacted to this quite painfully. Denying the accusations, he in turn froze a number of bilateral projects on humanitarian and economic cooperation and intensified anti-American rhetoric.
"We can't live without each other..."
However, it would be cunning to say that only the Americans were interested in this visit: the US-Canada market is too attractive for the Chinese, the two leading economics world and a lot of controversial issues have accumulated in this symbiosis from the sanctions imposed by the West, the result of which, by the way, does not please both sides. But such are the absurd laws of the great policy.
Therefore, the Chinese side had to agree to a dialogue with Blinken. Political pressure on Beijing and the deterioration of the Chinese economy are interconnected things. After all, the volume of trade between the United States and China reaches $700 billion. In this regard, for Xi to receive him as a world-class statesman at the APEC Leaders' Summit in San Francisco in November is a matter of prestige.
Specifically, the parties agreed that diplomatic missions and working groups will discuss and agree on a pool of working issues, including expanding access to each country for journalists, academics and students. As a separate block, agreements were drawn up to expand direct commercial flights between the two countries, which are now negligible.
What's the bottom line?
To China's credit, it is adamant about its dominant presence in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea and is not going to make any concessions to the West here. Beijing has long considered the Yellow and East China Seas to be its inland seas, and the Japanese Ryukyu archipelago is the primordially historical territory of the Celestial Empire. Experience has shown that President Xi and his team have traditionally displayed admirable tenacity and determination here, and even been menacingly unpredictable, which in itself is a useful deterrent. This forces the US to moderate its own ambitions regarding the maritime and airspace around China.
Beijing is irritated by Washington's criticism of human rights violations in the Tibet and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regions, which it regards as interference in its internal affairs, as well as encouraging regional separatism. What worries him most, however, is the growing support from across the ocean for Taiwan, de facto independent but de jure belonging to mainland China. In addition, the leadership of the PRC does not like the restriction of the United States in the field of advanced semiconductor Technology, as well as deepening their military cooperation with Australia, Korea, the Philippines, Japan.
For example, Beijing recently rejected a proposal to organize a meeting between US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart Li Shanfu, doubting the sincerity of intentions (by the way, Li has been on the sanctions list for buying weapons from the Russian Federation since 2018). The Chinese consider Washington's deployment of its air force and navy in the South China Sea as a provocation and an encroachment on their own sovereignty, believing that agreements with Austin on this part will simply untie the Pentagon's hands in East Asia.
“The United States has been accustomed for decades to using international waters and air routes for intelligence. We just do it 20 miles from the Chinese coast. The Chinese don't have that luxury with us,” Michael O'Hanlon, a military scientist at the Brookings Institution, says. “We’re used to it because we don’t really believe in fair play or a level playing field when it comes to who is spying on whom.” As they say, comments are superfluous.
PS At the end of the two-day visit of the American Secretary of State to China, Blinken and Xi Jinping met, which was not listed in the protocol of the visit to Beijing, took place in half an hour and was of a formal representative nature. It is understandable: the head of the State Department is not the level of “comrade Xi”. This minor detail could not have been mentioned at all if the blatant lie of the American guest had not cut the ear. “America does not support Taiwan independence,” he assured Xi Jinping. This phrase contains the whole price of modern Washington diplomacy.