US And China's Diplomatic Thaw

US And China's Diplomatic Thaw

May 13, 2023, 8:09 a.m.

Senior officials of the United States and China have held talks amid a deepening rift between the two countries. The talks were aimed at easing tensions after relations soured when an alleged Chinese spy balloon flew across the United States.

US security advisor Jake Sullivan met with top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi in Vienna, Austria, on Wednesday and Thursday.

They discussed Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the situation in Taiwan, and agreed that their countries should continue dialogue.

A senior official with the Biden administration told reporters that the meeting lasted more than eight hours and was a "candid, substantive and constructive" discussion.

The official said, "We do anticipate there will be engagements and visits in both directions over the coming months," but said Sullivan and Wang did not discuss dates for a rescheduling of Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to China. Blinken was scheduled to go in February but the trip was canceled due to the balloon issue.

President Biden has been seeking to hold talks by phone with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Asked why this has not happened yet, he told reporters on Wednesday, "There's been progress. It'll work out."

Biden, Xi meet face-to-face

Signs that the US and China are seeking to improve relations have been visible since six months ago.

Biden and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping met face-to-face for the first time last November, one day before the G20 summit in Bali.

The leaders of the US and China meet in Bali, Indonesia, on November 14, 2022.

Both leaders agreed to maintain the dialogue and work on rebuilding ties between their countries. The US said they agreed that Blinken would visit China.

China's new FM quick to reach out to Blinken

The following month, China surprised many by announcing Ambassador to the US Qin Gang would be the new foreign minister. Such appointments are usually made at the National People's Congress in March.

A few days after being nominated, Qin spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken by phone. Blinken tweeted that he and Qin discussed the US-China relationship and maintaining open lines of communication.

Blinken set for China visit

Since Biden took office, not one US cabinet member has visited China. Blinken was scheduled to be the first, with his visit set for February 3.

But just a day before his departure, the US Department of Defense announced that what it believed to be a Chinese reconnaissance balloon was flying over US territory.

Suspected spy balloon flies over the mainland of the US.

On February 4, the US announced it had shot the balloon down off the coast of South Carolina. The balloon had flown over the western state of Montana, which is home to Malmstrom Air Force Base, a facility that maintains several intercontinental ballistic missile silos.

China said the balloon was conducting meteorological research.

Taiwanese President's US visit worsens US-China ties

Relations between the two countries sank further when Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen visited the US.

Tsai met the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, on what was described as a stopover on the way home from a tour of Central America.

The Chinese government criticized the US for allowing the meeting "in disrespect of the stern representations and repeated warnings lodged by China."

Source: NHK

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