US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to meet with Chinese diplomat Wang Yi in Jakarta, underscoring the escalating tensions between the United States and China.
The meeting takes place during ASEAN meetings in Indonesia and represents another interaction between the rival superpowers, with the aim of managing their strained relationship and avoiding further conflict.
Blinken and Wang will hold discussions on the sidelines of the ASEAN-plus-three foreign minister talks, marking their second meeting in two months. The significance of the meeting lies in the recent flurry of diplomacy between the world’s largest economies, as they grapple with issues such as China’s assertiveness in the region and US restrictions on semiconductor exports.
Although both countries recognize the need to manage their relationship, no breakthroughs are anticipated at this stage. The primary objective is to prevent tensions from escalating into outright conflict. As one analyst suggests, the focus is on “managing the competition…trying to prevent things from spiraling out of control.”
This meeting follows Blinken’s historic visit to Beijing last month, the first by a US Secretary of State in five years. President Xi Jinping, along with Wang and Foreign Minister Qin Gang, met with Blinken during the visit. These engagements, along with recent visits by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and climate envoy John Kerry, highlight ongoing efforts to stabilize the intense rivalry between the superpowers.
However, it is important to note that tensions remain high, as evidenced by recent events such as the Chinese hacking of US government email accounts. Despite this, both sides are eager to continue diplomatic engagements, with hopes of a potential summit between President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping later this year.
The Jakarta meetings, involving ASEAN and partner countries, provide a platform for Blinken and Wang to address their countries’ interests and concerns. While the focus is on managing conflicts, the meetings also aim to foster stability and explore possibilities for cooperation.
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