The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, is meeting China’s president, Xi Jinping, in Beijing. The talks between Blinken, who is on the first visit to China by a US secretary of state in five years, and Xi began at 4.30 pm (0830 GMT).
Earlier on Monday Xi Blinken held extensive discussions with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi. Describing the US-China relationship as being at a low point, Wang said the root cause was the United States’ wrong perception of China.
Blinken underscored the importance of open communication channels to manage their competition during more than three hours of talks with Wang, the state department said, calling their conversation as “productive.”
On Sunday, Blinken held talks lasting more than seven a half hours – an hour more than expected – with the Chinese foreign minister, Qin Gang.
The US state department called the talks – which were held at an ornate state villa, and included a banquet dinner – “candid, substantive and constructive” although they did not appear to make concrete progress on disputes that include Taiwan, trade, human rights and fentanyl.
Both expressed a desire to stabilise ties despite what one US official called their “profound” differences, and agreed that Qin would visit Washington to continue the conversation, though no date was announced.
However, behind closed doors, Qin told Blinken that relations between the US and China “are at the lowest point since the establishment of diplomatic relations”, according to state-run broadcaster CCTV.
“This does not conform to the fundamental interests of the two peoples, nor does it meet the common expectations of the international community,” Qin was reported as saying during the talks at the ancient Diaoyutai gardens.
The state-run Chinese tabloid Global Times said in an editorial on Monday: “Despite very low expectations for any breakthroughs made during Blinken’s visit to China, there is still hope that both sides can maintain their ‘bottom line’ in the relationship.”
Sino-US ties have deteriorated across the board in recent years, raising concerns the two might one day clash militarily over the self-governed island of Taiwan, which China claims as its own.
Especially alarming for China’s neighbours has been Beijing’s reluctance to engage in regular military-to-military talks with Washington.
Before the talks, US officials saw little chance of any breakthrough on the many disputes between the world’s largest economies, which also include US efforts to hold back China’s semiconductor industry and to stem the flow of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl and its precursor chemicals from China.
Blinken was originally scheduled to visit in February but abruptly scrapped his plans as the US protested against – and later shot down – what it said was a Chinese spy balloon flying over its soil.