Factbox-Key issues discussed by Blinken in talks with Chinese leaders

By Thomson Reuters Apr 26, 2024 | 11:17 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on Friday in the latest high-level contacts between the superpowers aimed at keeping tense relations under control.

The visit brought little progress on contentious issues, including China’s support for Russia in Ukraine, tensions over Taiwan and the South China Sea and U.S. complaints about cheap Chinese exports. However, there was some effort to ease the mood by emphasizing educational and other cultural exchanges. Following are details of some of the issues:


Blinken raised concerns about China’s support for Russia’s military, saying its supply of so-called dual-use goods was “having a material effect in Ukraine” and raising the threat Russia poses to countries in Europe.

“China is the top supplier of machine tools, microelectronics, nitrocellulose, which is critical to making munitions and rocket propellants, and other dual-use items that Moscow is using to ramp up its defense industrial base,” Blinken told a news conference.

He did not respond when asked whether Washington would impose sanctions over China’s support for Russia, which U.S. officials warn risks hurting the broader bilateral relationship, even as ties stabilize.

China says it has not provided weaponry to any party and that it is “not a producer of or party involved in the Ukraine crisis”. However, it says that normal trade between China and Russia should not be interrupted or restricted.


China’s top diplomat Wang Yi said the U.S. must not step on “red lines” covering sovereignty, security and development interests – an apparent reference to Taiwan, the democratically governed island China claims as its own, and the disputed South China Sea.

Russia’s Ukraine invasion has raised fears China might be emboldened to move against Taiwan, which the U.S. is required by law to provide with the means to defend itself.

President Joe Biden, who met Xi Jinping in November in San Francisco, says Washington does not support Taiwan’s independence, but has upset Beijing by appearing to suggest it would defend the island if it were attacked.

Underscoring the discord, hours before Blinken landed in China on Wednesday, Biden signed a bill that included $8 billion to counter China’s military might, as well as billions in defense aid for Taiwan and $61 billion for Ukraine.


China and the United States are the world’s two largest economies and still have robust trade ties. These have been hit by U.S. concerns about the size of its trade deficit with China, Washington’s imposition of restrictions on trade in goods that could bolster China’s military, and efforts to diversify supply chains away from China since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wang said the U.S. had taken “endless” measures to suppress China’s economy, trade, science and technology, equating such steps to containment. Xi reiterated Beijing’s concerns that the U.S. was suppressing its economic development.

“This is a fundamental issue that must be addressed, just like the first button of a shirt that must be put right, in order for the China-U.S. relationship to truly stabilize, improve and move forward,” Xi said.


Curbing China’s supply of the chemicals used to make fentanyl, a killer drug having a devastating effect among American youth, has been a top U.S. priority.

During his three-day trip, Blinken met China’s minister of public security, Wang Xiaohong, to discuss the issue.

He said China has made some progress dealing with what he called the number-one killer of Americans between the ages of 18 and 45, but “more needs to be done.”

Blinken also said the countries also agreed to hold their first talks on artificial intelligence in coming weeks.


To lighten the mood after days of serious engagement, Blinken popped into a Beijing record store and bought an album by Chinese rocker Dou Wei and Taylor Swift’s “Midnights.”

One of the aims of his trip has been to emphasize the importance of “people-to-people ties” in improving relations.

Blinken, a keen musician and guitar player, described music as “the best connector, regardless of geography.”

He also said Xi had said he wanted to “significantly increase” the number of American students in China. Blinken said there were more than 290,000 Chinese students in the United States, but fewer than 900 Americans studying in China.

(Reporting by Simon Lewis, Antoni Slodkowski and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)