The top US and Chinese diplomats met Friday in New York as soaring tensions show signs of easing, but Beijing issued a new warning against support for Taiwan.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi shook hands but only exchanged pleasantries before the cameras before sitting down with aids on the sidelines of the annual United Nations summit.
One month later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, infuriating Beijing which staged exercises seen as a trial run for an invasion of the self-governing democracy.
Blinken went ahead with the talks despite paring down his schedule following the death of his father on Thursday. Immediately before seeing Wang, he met with his counterparts from Australia, Japan and India, the so-called “Quad” which Beijing has denounced as an attempt to isolate it.
– Taiwan the ‘biggest risk’ –
In a speech before his talks with Blinken, Wang reiterated anger over US support for Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory.
“Just as the US will not allow Hawaii to be stripped away, China has the right to uphold the unification of the country,” he said.
But Wang was conciliatory toward Biden. The New York talks are expected to lay the groundwork for a first meeting between Biden and President Xi Jinping since they became their two countries’ leaders, likely in Bali in November on the sidelines of a summit of the Group of 20 economic powers.
The US Congress is a stronghold of support for Taiwan, a vibrant democracy and major technological power.
Tensions have also risen over human rights with the United States accusing the communist state of carrying out genocide against the mostly Muslim Uyghur people.
Russia’s invasion in February of Ukraine quickly amused the US focus to Europe but also heightened fears that Beijing could make good on years of threats to use force against Taiwan.
Wang met in New York with Ukraine’s foreign minister for the first time since the war and in a Security Council session Thursday emphasized the need for a ceasefire rather than support for Russia.
Originally published as US, China top diplomats meet to contain high tensions on Taiwan