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US and China try to reduce escalating tensions on several fronts.

In a renewed effort to try to contain or at least manage the rampant antagonism that has come to characterize recent relations between Washington and Beijing, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his Chinese counterpart on Saturday.

A day after they both attended a meeting of top diplomats from the Group of 20 rich and large developing countries that failed to reach an agreement over Russia’s war in Ukraine and how to deal with its effects, Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi were having talks in the Indonesian resort of Bali.

Wang and Blinken were debating a number of sensitive topics, including trade barriers, human rights, tariffs, Taiwan, and South China Sea disputes. The top military officials from the two nations had just two days before engaged in a virtual debate over Taiwan.

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As the two entered the private meeting, Blinken said, “In a relationship as complex and important as the one between the United States and China, there is a lot to talk about and I’m very much looking forward to a good, constructive dialogue.”

Wang stated that “to ensure that this relationship will continue to go forward along the proper route, it is vital for the two nations to maintain normal exchanges” and “to work together.”

He repeated phrases frequently used in Chinese about upholding the values of “mutual respect,” “peaceful coexistence,” and “win-win collaboration.” The interests of the two nations and two peoples are served by that, he claimed. Additionally, it is a goal that the entire world community shares.

Prior to the meeting, U.S. officials stated that they did not anticipate any significant progress from Blinken’s discussions with Wang. However, they expressed hope that the discussion will help maintain open lines of communication and establish “guardrails” to direct the world’s two greatest economies as they negotiate ever-more complex and possibly catastrophic situations.

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Some fear that the increasingly antagonistic positions that the United States and China have taken out, notably on Ukraine, could result in errors of judgement and conflict. The United States has closely observed China’s refusal to denounce the Russian incursion, condemnation of Western sanctions against Russia, and accusation of the United States and NATO of instigating the crisis.

The Biden administration had hoped that China would take a similar stance with Ukraine given its long history of opposing meddling in its own internal affairs. However, it has not, opting instead for a hybrid stance that American officials believe is harming the global system of rules-based order.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Wang indirectly alluded to China’s position on international stability at the G-20 summit when he said, “Placing one’s own security above the security of others and intensifying military blocs will only split the international community and make oneself less secure.”

On Thursday, Gen. Li Zuocheng, chairman of China’s joint chiefs of staff, chastised Gen. Mark Milley, his American counterpart, for supporting Taiwan, which Beijing views as a rebellious province.

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Li argued that China has “no room for compromise” on matters affecting its “core interests,” which include self-governing Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own territory to be annexed by force if necessary. Li demanded that the U.S. stop its military “collusion” with Taiwan.

China insists that the US stop trying to change the past, stop military cooperation with Taiwan, and refrain from having an adverse effect on Sino-American relations and Taiwan Strait stability, Li added.

Li was also cited adding that China intended to “further strengthen conversation, handle risks, and promote cooperation, rather than purposefully creating hostility, causing events, and becoming mutually exclusive” in a news release from the Defense Ministry at the same time.

The island’s Defense Ministry reported that Chinese air force aircraft crossed the middle line of the Taiwan Strait dividing the two sides on Friday morning. China regularly flies warplanes near Taiwan to announce its threat to attack.

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Following Wei Fenghe’s vehement remarks at a regional security conference last month, where U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was also present, Li and Milley met.

Wei claimed that Washington was attempting to pursue its own interests “under the pretext of multilateralism” by “hijacking” the backing of nations in the Asia-Pacific to turn them against Beijing.

Austin claimed that China was fostering instability with its claim to Taiwan and its heightened military activities in the region at the same gathering in Singapore.

In May, Blinken angered China by referring to its claims to Taiwan and aspirations to control the strategically important South China Sea as the “most severe long-term danger to the international order” for the United States.

With what they refer to as “freedom of navigation” operations in the South China Sea, the United States and its allies have replied, infuriating Beijing.

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