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US Secretary of State Blinken holds talks with Chinese officials

In an effort to address a series of outstanding issues and further stabilize relations between the United States and China, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with China’s top official in Shanghai on Thursday.

The meeting comes against the backdrop of improving ties between the two nations, following a period of heightened tensions that reached historic lows last year.

Blinken’s visit marks the latest in a series of high-level contacts between the US and China, including working groups focused on various global issues such as trade and military communications.

While public acrimony has subsided, significant challenges remain, including China’s supply of chemicals used in fentanyl production, tensions in the South China Sea and disagreements over Chinese support for Russia in the conflict in Ukraine.

During his speech at the start of the meeting with Shanghai Chinese Communist Party Secretary Chen Jining, Blinken emphasized the importance of direct engagement and dialogue in addressing the differences between the two nations. Chen echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the impact of cooperation versus confrontation on the well-being of both peoples and the future of humanity.

In addition to his meeting with local officials, Blinken will also meet with business leaders and students before heading to Beijing for talks with his counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and a likely meeting with President Xi Jinping. However, tensions loom large during these upcoming discussions.

Shortly after Blinken’s arrival in Shanghai, President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan bill allocating $8 billion to counter China’s military capabilities, as well as significant defense support for Taiwan and Ukraine.

In addition, Biden signed a separate bill that could potentially lead to the banning of popular short video app TikTok in the US if its Chinese owner, ByteDance, fails to divest it by the deadline.

During his meetings in China, Blinken is expected to raise concerns about Chinese companies’ support for Russia’s defense industry in the wake of the conflict in Ukraine. Although China has refrained from supplying weapons directly to Russia, there are concerns that Chinese companies are providing dual-use technology that supports Russia’s war effort.

A senior State Department official indicated Washington is prepared to take action against Chinese companies believed to be endangering U.S. and European security interests, though no details were provided.

Meanwhile, Chinese state media have expressed skepticism about the possible outcomes of the discussions, highlighting ongoing tensions and differences in perception between the two nations.

As both sides navigate these complex issues, the meetings between Blinken and Chinese officials provide a crucial opportunity to address key concerns and pave the way for continued dialogue and cooperation between the United States and China.

Chioma Kalu

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