US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday, issuing a stern warning against providing assistance to Russia. The meeting between the two diplomats came amid strained US-China relations, with the Biden administration seeking to press Beijing on human rights, economic and security issues.
During the meeting, Blinken expressed concern about China’s support for Russia, which he said could undermine US efforts to impose sanctions on Moscow for its involvement in the SolarWinds cyberattack and its treatment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. “We have seen reports of China potentially providing assistance to Russia that could be used to further Russia’s destabilizing actions and we want to make sure that that kind of assistance is not provided,” Blinken said.
Wang, for his part, defended China’s stance on Russia, saying that the country’s ties with Moscow were not intended to be a “counterweight” to the US or to counter US policies. “China and Russia are not looking for an ideological confrontation with any other country, or to form a small group to confront the United States or any other country,” Wang said. He also urged the US to reconsider its policies on trade, technology and security issues, calling on Washington to make “real progress” towards resolving disputes with Beijing.
The meeting between Blinken and Wang was the first high-level diplomatic contact between the two countries since Biden took office in January. The two sides discussed a range of issues, including the current state of US-China relations and the potential for cooperation on global issues, including the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Both sides agreed to continue to communicate and cooperate on issues of mutual interest.
The meeting between Blinken and Wang is seen as a sign of the Biden administration’s commitment to engaging with China, despite the myriad of differences between the two countries. It is hoped that the two sides can find common ground on a range of issues, from human rights and economic issues to security and climate change. Only time will tell whether the US and China can reach a consensus and make meaningful progress on a range of issues.