Top U.S. and Chinese diplomats will hold their second meeting in as many months on Thursday in Jakarta, seeking to manage tensions that may flare up again over the alleged Chinese hack.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and senior Chinese foreign policy official Wang Yi will meet on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations talks in the Indonesian capital, the public calendar said. from the State Department.
The meeting continues despite Microsoft saying two days earlier that Chinese hackers hacked into US government email accounts, including those of the State Department.
The Jakarta talks come nearly a month after Blinken traveled to Beijing, the top US diplomat’s first visit in nearly five years, and met with President Xi Jinping as well as Wang and Foreign Minister Qin Gang. .
Wang, who heads the foreign affairs commission of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, is representing China at the Jakarta talks between foreign ministers because Qin is ill, the Foreign Ministry said in Beijing.
Blinken’s trip opened a flurry of diplomacy, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen visiting Beijing last week and a trip by climate envoy John Kerry scheduled for the next few days.
But the United States has still not achieved a key objective of resuming dialogue with the Chinese military, considered essential to avoid the worst scenarios.
Tensions between the world’s two largest economies have skyrocketed in recent years over a host of issues, including China’s assertiveness in the region and sweeping US restrictions on semiconductor exports. advances.
US officials fear China is preparing plans to invade Taiwan, the self-governing democracy it claims, and want to preserve the status quo that has prevailed, often with trepidation, for nearly five decades.
– ‘Productive coexistence’? –
Neither the United States nor China predicted breakthroughs in renewed diplomacy, but both spoke of ensuring that disagreements do not lead to outright conflict.
After his trip to Beijing, Blinken spoke in unusually optimistic terms about China, eschewing the Cold War talk popular under former President Donald Trump’s administration of a long-term global confrontation with the rising Asian power.
“At least in the short term, maybe even in the lifetime of most people in this room, I don’t think (there is) a clear finish line,” Blinken said of America’s goals in China during a recent appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
“It’s more about getting to a place where we have a peaceful and maybe a little more productive coexistence between us, because the bottom line is this: China is not going away, we are not leaving. , so in the first place, we have to find a way to coexist and coexist peacefully.”
But incidents have crept in repeatedly to overshadow the relationship.
Microsoft said this week that a Chinese hacking group gained access to nearly 25 organizations for the purpose of spying.
The State Department said it detected “abnormal activity” but refrained from publicly blaming China, saying an investigation was underway.
Blinken’s first plan to visit Beijing was scuttled in February after Washington said it detected a Chinese spy balloon over the mainland United States.
– Tensions at sea, Burma –
The South China Sea is expected to be a major topic of ASEAN talks in Jakarta, where both Washington and Beijing will attend a meeting of foreign ministers from the 18-nation East Asia Summit on Friday.
China claims almost the entire strategic waterway and several ASEAN members complain that Beijing is encroaching on their own overlapping territorial claims.
ASEAN will also meet jointly with the foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea, a dialogue in place since the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
The crisis in coup-prone Myanmar will also be on the list of topics to discuss, as it is a thorny issue dividing ASEAN members, said Teuku Rezasyah, an international relations expert at the University. from Padjadjaran.
“Both Japan and South Korea have an interest in preventing Myanmar from rejoining China’s orbit,” he said.
Thailand’s foreign minister said on Wednesday he met Myanmar’s ousted democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi last week in her first known meeting with a foreign envoy since she was detained during the coup. military state more than two years ago.
Thailand’s military-backed government has also sought to engage with neighboring Myanmar’s junta, drawing criticism that it is undermining ASEAN unity by pressuring military leaders.