Top US diplomat Antony Blinken looks forward to meeting China’s Wang Yi to build on ‘important conversations’

America’s top diplomat on Thursday expressed a wish to meet his newly reappointed Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in the US in the coming months to build on the “important conversations” he had with senior Chinese officials in Beijing in June.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters at the United Nations headquarters in New York that he had invited then-foreign minister Qin Gang to visit at a “mutually convenient time” and had formally extended the invitation to Wang.

“We are looking at the fall,” said Blinken of a possible meeting. “We don’t have a response yet, but we just extended that invitation”.

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“I would expect we’ll have an opportunity to see each other and to continue the important conversations that I had in Beijing, that a number of my colleagues in the cabinet had.”

“Others will be going, and we fully expect Chinese counterparts to come to the United States,” Blinken added.

Last week, after weeks of Qin’s whereabouts going unexplained, Wang was named to take over as China’s foreign minister, a position he previously held from 2013 to last December. Wang also directs the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller on Tuesday said a meeting invitation had been extended to Wang on Monday during a meeting between Daniel Kritenbrink, US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, and Yang Tao, the foreign ministry’s head of North American and Oceanian affairs.

“We certainly expect that it is something that they would accept and is a trip that we expect to happen, but we have not yet scheduled a date,” Miller said at the time.

US President Joe Biden has been sending his top aides to Beijing in recent months to stabilise a bilateral relationship that has plunged to its lowest level since the countries established diplomatic ties in 1979.

In mid-June, Blinken became the first US secretary of state to travel to China in five years. He met Qin as well as President Xi Jinping. Both sides described the talks as “candid and constructive”.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen was the next Biden administration official to visit Beijing, where she took part in hours-long meetings with China’s premier, Li Qiang, as well as a vice-premier.

Yellen was followed in Beijing by Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry, who met his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua.

After a four-day trip that included closed-door talks, Kerry spoke of having “productive discussions”. And though no breakthrough on climate cooperation was achieved, the two sides agreed to hold regular meetings.

Amid heightened tensions over Biden’s export controls on certain semiconductor technology to hobble China’s tech advancement, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is also expected to travel to Beijing later in August.

Blinken on Thursday said “it would be beneficial to continue these conversations”, noting that he spoke with Wang in July on the margins of an Asean meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, and that he would “look forward to seeing him in the United States”.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2023 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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