China and US should be "partners, not rivals", Xi Jinping tells Blinken

US secretary of state visits Beijing
El secretario de Estado de Estados Unidos, Antony Blinken (izq.), se reúne con el presidente de China, Xi Jinping, en el Gran Salón del Pueblo de Pekín el 26 de abril de 2024 – PHOTO/Mark Schiefelbein/POOL/AFP
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 26 April 2024 - PHOTO/Mark Schiefelbein/POOL/AFP
  1. "Shared responsibility"

Chinese President Xi Jinping told visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday that the two economic powers should be "partners, not rivals", warning that "many problems" remain to be resolved in their bilateral relations.

In a sign of the importance the two countries attach to their relationship, the Chinese leader received in Beijing's Great Hall of the People the chief US diplomat, who on Wednesday paid his second visit to China in less than a year.

Xi acknowledged that the two countries have "made some positive progress" since he met with US President Joe Biden late last year, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

But "there are still many problems to be resolved, and there is still room for further efforts," he added.

"I proposed three major principles: mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation," he said.

"The Earth is big enough to accommodate the common development and (...) prosperity of China and the United States," the Chinese president insisted.

"When this fundamental problem is solved (...) relations can really stabilise, improve and move forward," Xi said.

Blinken also met with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, with whom he said he held "extensive and constructive" talks for more than five hours.

According to a US official, the Secretary of State expressed his country's concern over China's support for Vladimir Putin's Russia, among other issues.

Wang warned that the multiple pressures exerted by Washington could lead to a deterioration in bilateral relations.

Chinese officials are annoyed with economic pressure from the Biden administration, which has vetoed semiconductor exports to China and is threatening to ban the TikTok platform if it does not cut ties with its Chinese parent company.

Wang acknowledged that relations between the two countries were "beginning to stabilise" following the November meeting in San Francisco between their presidents.

"But at the same time, negative factors are building and increasing in the relationship," he warned.

The foreign minister said China always "advocates respect for the fundamental interests of each side" and called on the US "not to overstep Beijing's red line" on sovereignty, security and development.

El secretario de Estado de Estados Unidos, Antony Blinken (dcha.), el embajador de EE. UU. en China, Nicholas Burns (izq.), y el presidente de la Cámara, Eric Zheng, saludan mientras se reúnen con líderes empresariales en la Cámara de Comercio de EE. UU. en Shanghái el 25 de abril de 2024 – PHOTO/Mark Schiefelbein/POOL/AFP
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R), U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns (L) and Chamber Chairman Eric Zheng wave as they meet with business leaders at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai on April 25, 2024 - PHOTO/Mark Schiefelbein/POOL/AFP

"Shared responsibility"

Despite Wang's bluntness, US officials and experts believe that Xi's priority is to control the country's economic difficulties and that, at least in the short term, he wants to avoid confrontation with the West.

Blinken urged both sides to manage their relationship "responsibly".

The two countries should be "as clear as possible about the areas where we have differences, at least to avoid misunderstandings and miscalculations", he argued.

"That's really a shared responsibility that we have not only to our peoples, but to people around the world," he said.

According to his team, Blinken was also to call on China to exercise restraint ahead of the May inauguration of a new president in Taiwan (the self-governing island claimed by Beijing) and to use its influence over Iran to try to contain the threat of open conflict with Israel.

Biden, who recently spoke by phone with Xi, faces a tough battle for the November presidential election against his Republican predecessor Donald Trump, who pursued a belligerent policy towards China during his tenure.

The US Democratic administration has highlighted progress made through its diplomatic rapprochement with China, such as Beijing's commitment to impose tighter controls on the export of fentanyl precursor chemicals, an opioid responsible for an addiction epidemic in the United States.

But at the same time, in some areas Biden has put even more pressure on China than Trump.

One example is the recent law voted by Congress and endorsed by Biden to force the sale of TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, or risk a US ban.

US officials cite security and privacy concerns about the app, which is popular among the country's youth.

ByteDance, which denies these allegations, reiterated on Thursday that it has no intention of selling the video platform.