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Antony Blinken takes aim at China’s support for Russia’s war in Beijing visit | CBC News

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised concerns on Friday about China’s support for Russia’s military, one of the many issues threatening to sour the recent improvement in relations between the world’s biggest economies.

Blinken raised the matter during five-and-a-half hours of talks with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi in Beijing, the latest high-level contact between the countries after a year filled with mostly acrimony between the two superpowers.

“I reiterated our serious concern about the PRC providing components that are powering Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine,” Blinken said at a news conference at the end of his visit on Friday, using China’s official name, the People’s Republic of China.

“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 defence industrial base,” he said.

The visit produced little progress on contentious issues including U.S. complaints about cheap Chinese exports and tensions over Taiwan and the South China Sea. Instead, both sides are focusing on pragmatic issues like people-to-people exchanges.

Despite its “no limits” partnership with Moscow, China has steered clear of providing arms for Russia’s war in Ukraine, but Blinken said its supply of so-called dual-use goods was “having a material effect in Ukraine” and raising the threat Russia poses to other countries in Europe.

Blinken did not respond to a question on whether Washington would impose sanctions over China’s support for Russia.

WATCH l China essential to Russian battlefield success: Blinken:

Russia would struggle to sustain assault on Ukraine without China, Blinken says

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says China is a ‘top supplier’ of things like machine tools and micro-electronics, which Russia uses to churn out weapons used against Ukraine.

‘All kinds of disruptions’

The U.S. officials say assistance for Russia risks hurting the broader bilateral relationship, even as ties stabilize after being hit by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in 2022 and the U.S. downing of a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon in February 2023.

China has said it has not provided weaponry to any party, adding 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.

WATCH l Biden, Xi resumed in-person meetings in November:

Biden, Xi meet face-to-face for 1st time in a year

After a year of silence, U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke face-to-face for the first time ahead of this year’s APEC Summit in San Francisco. Both leaders acknowledged the importance of the meeting and of continuing dialogue.

In addition to his talks with Wang, Blinken met Chinese President Xi Jinping, who reiterated Beijing’s concerns that the United States 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.

Earlier, Wang told Blinken that the “giant ship” of the China-U.S. ties had stabilized, “but negative factors in the relationship are still increasing and building.”

Wang also said the U.S. had taken “endless” measures to suppress China’s economy, trade, science and technology, equating such steps to containment.

“And the relationship is facing all kinds of disruptions. China’s legitimate development rights have been unreasonably suppressed and our core interests are facing challenges,” Wang told Blinken.

WATCH l U.S., Japan, Philippines reinforce ties in face of Chinese acts at sea:

Former U.S Diplomat Robert Daly discusses growing tensions in the South China Sea

Get the latest on CBCNews.ca, the CBC News App, and CBC News Network for breaking news and analysis.

AI, fentanyl issues discussed

The agenda for the talks was set during the November summit between Biden and Xi in San Francisco and a follow-up call in April.

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

Wang 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 that China claims as its own, and the disputed South China Sea.

Other issues being discussed include artificial intelligence and the U.S. push for progress on the curbing of China’s supply of the chemicals used to make fentanyl.

LISTEN l Front Burner on the fentanyl crisis (October 2023):

Front Burner23:36Who’s responsible for the fentanyl crisis?

The U.S is cracking down on fentanyl’s global supply chain by targeting Mexican and Chinese individuals with indictments and sanctions. Officials from those countries insist it’s largely an American problem. What’s actually happening on the ground in China and Mexico? What impact will U.S. retaliation have? Today, journalist Zachary Siegel explains. For transcripts of Front Burner, please visit: https://www.cbc.ca/radio/frontburner/transcripts Transcripts of each episode will be made available by the next workday.

Blinken, along with senior U.S. officials focused on anti-narcotics collaboration with China, met China’s minister of public security, Wang Xiaohong, to discuss the fentanyl issue.

Blinken told the news conference that China has made some progress on the issue, but said that “more needs to be done.”

The two countries also agreed to hold their first talks on artificial intelligence in the coming weeks, he said. 

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