US Secretary of State Antony Blinken managed to hold a highly sought-after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Monday, aimed at reducing a wide range of tensions between the world’s two most powerful economic and military powers.

However, the short duration of the visit suggested that the material was largely superficial. “Diplomatic passage?” longtime Morgan Stanley Asia managing director and current Paul Tsai Center China Center Fellow at Yale Law School Stephen Roach asked in a tweet.

“Blinken-Xi met for just 35 minutes – one of the shortest high-level meetings in history. Consecutive translation cuts the actual exchange in half—leaving everyone less than 10 minutes of superficial speaking time,” Roach wrote.

Nevertheless, the meeting marked the highest-level exchange between the two administrations since a hiatus earlier this year after the downing of a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the US heartland in February sparked an uproar in Congress and slowed the momentum created by President Biden’s meeting. and Xi in Bali last November.

A US State Department spokesman said today, referring to the Biden-Xi meeting in Indonesia, that “the two sides agreed to continue discussions on the development of principles to guide bilateral relations, as discussed by President Biden and President Xi in Bali.”

Blinken’s two-day meetings with Xi, the director of the Communist Party’s Central Bureau of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi, and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang produced “candid, substantive and constructive discussions on key priorities in the bilateral relationship and a range of global and regional issues,” Matthew Miller said from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.

Of particular interest to businesses, Blinken addressed China’s “unfair and non-market economic practices and recent actions against US firms,” ​​the statement said. “Recent actions” may have included raids on US research and due diligence companies, including Bain and Mintz, by Chinese security officials, raising security concerns among US executives; The new anti-espionage law, which will take effect on July 1, is also causing concern. Blinken pointed to the lack of US-China flights, another burden for US companies doing business on the mainland.

Business tensions have also been a big issue for China this year as it has struggled to revive its economy amid youth unemployment of around 20%. Foreign investors are partly aware that they are putting money into the country from Chinese private sector enterprises, whose new commitments have been hurt by fears of slow economic growth, leftist policies by Xi Jinping and geopolitical tensions.

China’s new US ambassador Xie Feng also took to Twitter after the Xi-Blinken meeting, saying that President Xi “believes that these two great countries can overcome various difficulties and find the right way to get along based on mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and mutually beneficial benefits. cooperation.” This contrasted with Wang Yi’s harsher statements. According to the Xinhua news agency, Wang “demanded that the United States stop playing on the so-called ‘Chinese threat,’ lift illegal unilateral sanctions against China, stop suppressing China’s scientific and technological progress, and not arbitrarily interfere in internal affairs affairs of China.”

Bliken said there had been no change in US policy toward Taiwan, a self-governing democracy of 24 million people over which Beijing claims sovereignty, perhaps the biggest flare-up between the two sides. The US diplomat “stressed the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and reiterated that there has been no change in US policy towards China,” the State Department said.

Taiwan’s relatively small size belies its importance to the global economy as one of the world’s most important semiconductor manufacturing centers; is home to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, or TSMC, whose long list of American customers includes Nvidia and Intel. During his visit, Blinken also highlighted Ukraine, another source of tension in US-China relations due to China’s close ties with Russia.

On a more positive note, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, representatives of both countries welcomed people-to-people exchanges. “Both sides welcomed the strengthening of people-to-people exchanges between students, scholars and businesses,” the statement said. American business leaders traveling to China in recent weeks include Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Jamie Dimon. During the visit to Blinken, the two sides also agreed to cooperate on climate change, global macroeconomic stability, food security, public health and the fight against narcotics.

Blinken Tweeted pictures of the encounter during his visit to exchange students there, part of a flood of comments on social media from around the world about the encounter.

Looking ahead, the two sides agreed to “follow up on increased engagement in Washington and Beijing to continue open lines of communication,” the State Department said. Blinken invited Foreign Minister Qin — most recently China’s ambassador to the U.S. — to the U.S. to continue discussions, and “they agreed to schedule a mutual visit at a mutually convenient time.”

Former US diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity this month, said the Xi-Blinken meeting could help pave the way for Xi’s visit to the APEC leaders’ meeting in San Francisco in November. Blinken concluded a trip to Saudi Arabia earlier this month, where members of the Gulf Cooperation Council later met to express warm support for Arab-Chinese trade amid a major push by Beijing to expand its ties to the region.

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