U.S., Chinese Top Diplomats Meet in Bid to Stabilize Ties

NUSA DUA, Indonesia — Chief diplomats from the US and China met Saturday with a goal of improving communications despite deep differences.

“China and the United States are two large countries, so it is necessary for the two countries to maintain normal exchanges,” Beijing Foreign Minister Wang Yi said ahead of a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of a gathering by the group of top-20 global leaders Economies in Bali, Indonesia.

“In a relationship as complex and consequential as that between the United States and China, there is much to discuss,” Mr Blinken told reporters as he greeted Mr Wang ahead of the meeting.

The relatively cool welcome exchanged by the Chinese and American envoys came a day after Mr Blinken and other Western diplomats slammed Russia for contributing to higher food and energy prices and trying to isolate Moscow in Bali .

The Biden administration wants to ensure that China, which this year signed a comprehensive cooperation agreement with Russia amid talk of a partnership without borders, does not lend Moscow any support in the Ukraine war.

Overall, US officials are intent on maintaining a relationship with China that they describe as highly competitive, with some room for cooperation in select areas and likely confrontation in others. Beijing has accused Washington of trying to recruit other countries in the region to undermine the rise of China, which it condemns as a revival of Cold War-style containment.

The Blinken-Wang meeting is at least the fifth exchange between senior US and Chinese officials since early June, after a hiatus of many months during which ties drifted to their lowest point in decades. Both governments are looking at ways to stabilize, if not improve, ties, according to current and former officials.

“There’s no substitute for face-to-face — or sometimes mask-to-mask — diplomacy,” Mr Blinken said.

President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are expected to hold calls in the coming days, some of the officials said in their first conversation since March. Mr. Biden is considering lifting some of the Trump-era tariffs on Chinese imports, which is likely to be viewed positively in Beijing.

Mr. Biden can hardly afford a new crisis, some of the current and former officials said, as his poll numbers plummet and he grapples with inflation on the home front and tries to keep allies united in supporting Ukraine against Russia. Meanwhile, Mr Xi is seeking a third five-year term as Communist Party leader to break recent precedent and faces a flagging economy and public grumbling about coronavirus lockdowns.

Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization late last month released a new guidance document for the military alliance, singled out China for the first time and calling it a challenge to European and Atlantic security. Last week, Federal Bureau of Investigation director Christopher Wray and Ken McCallum, director general of Britain’s MI5 intelligence agency, made a rare joint appeal to companies over Chinese espionage threats to proprietary information.


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Beijing responded to Mr. Wray and Mr. McCallum’s comments, saying they had exposed “an ingrained zero-sum mentality and Cold War ideological biases.”

At the high-level meetings, which resumed in early June, senior US and Chinese officials discussed global security, military, trade and economic issues. For Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, her latest conversation with her Chinese counterpart marked the first publicly reported exchange since October. For the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mark Milley, it was the first in 18 months.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has had more regular meetings with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi.

write to William Mauldin at and Charles Hutzler at

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