Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s long-anticipated visit to China took place in mid-June. He made several concessions that were important to the Chinese Communist Party, but failed to achieve a crucial military communication agreement.
Blinken has been in China since Friday. He will return on Wednesday. However, he has already met President Xi Jinping of China, Director of CCP Central Foreign Affairs Office Wang Yi, and Foreign Minister Qin Gang. Blinken’s trip was aimed at “stabilizing” U.S. China relations. He also stressed that the Biden administration did not seek conflict with Beijing.
Blinken stated that one of his top priorities was to establish a direct line of communication between military personnel in times of crisis. Blinken stated that despite the priority Biden’s team placed on the request, the CCP again declined the offer.
China rejects Blinken’s proposal to establish military-to-military communications
Blinken told journalists in Beijing that China had not agreed to establish a crisis military to military communications channel. This was one of Blinken’s biggest hopes from the U.S. trip.
Bethany Bei Shu Ying June 19, 2023
China has rejected Biden’s requests for direct military communication multiple times over the past few months. This includes a recent request for high-level discussions with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Blinken’s public comments after the meetings included several remarks that raised eyebrows, including the disclosure about the military hotline being rejected. He said the United States “does not support Taiwan independence”, which was, according to China’s readout, a demand from Wang.
Wang urged his side to
Adhere to the principle of One-China as defined in three joint communiques signed by and
Respect China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty
#Explicitly oppose the “Taiwan Independence.”
— Moritz Rudolf (@MoritzRudolf) June 19, 2023
The Taiwan assurance contradicts statements made by President Joe Biden, who repeatedly stated that the United States will defend Taiwan if mainland China attacks it militarily. Blinken reiterated the U.S.’s commitment to continue supplying defensive capabilities to Taiwan, in accordance to long-standing U.S. law. These stances are not clear in relation to the stated opposition of Taiwanese Independence.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he raised concerns over China’s “provocative action” in the Taiwan Strait at talks in Beijing
“We do not support Taiwan independence,” he adds https://t.co/q5LVRjYhbL pic.twitter.com/ioj8JnH3th
— Bloomberg (@business) June 19, 2023
Blinken also made a comment which caught the attention of many. He said that China’s economic success was in the U.S.’s interest. This statement was in line with the Biden administration, who have stated that they want competition and not conflict with China. However, critics claim that this rhetoric is too softer than it should be. Blinken expressed his support for various Chinese sanctions and efforts to curb their chip-making industry. This seems to contradict the statement that China’s economic success was in the American interests.
. @SecBlinken : “One thing I wanted to do during this trip was disabuse my Chinese hosts from the idea that we were trying to contain their economy. We’re not … I also noted to our — our hosts, that China’s broad economic success is also in our interest.” pic.twitter.com/X83VbkYSur
Tom Elliott (@tomselliott), June 19, 2023
Blinken continued, “We want to see the growth and success in all parts of the world. This includes, of course, the major economies such as China.”
Blinken received from China an assurance that Beijing would not supply Russia with lethal assistance to prolong its war in Ukraine. The State Department stated in 2023 that it was worried that China might do so and threatened severe consequences.
Blinken, however, immediately undermined that assurance by claiming that there may be “private” Chinese firms that are providing Russia with deadly aid. China experts claim that the idea that “private” Chinese companies handle military technology is a fiction.
Blinken claims that Chinese officials have pledged not to provide “lethal assistance” to Russia “for the use in Ukraine”, but then says that he’s concerned about “private” Chinese firms doing exactly that. #facepalm
— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) June 19, 2023
“China has assured us and other countries that it will not, and does not, provide lethal aid to Russia to be used in Ukraine. “We appreciate that and have seen no evidence to contradict that,” he stated. “What we are concerned about is Chinese companies that could be providing Russia with technology to further its aggression in Ukraine. We have asked China to be vigilant in this regard.
Xi’s rhetoric was softer than usual towards the U.S. during Blinken’s visit. He praised Blinken for his efforts to “stabilize’ U.S. China relations. But he urged him to do more. “I hope, Mr. Sec., that you will make a more positive contribution to stabilizing China-U.S. relationships through this visit.”