In China, Blinken Urges Fair Treatment of American Companies

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns walk through the Yu Gardens in Shanghai, China, April 24, 2024. Mark Schiefelbein/Pool via REUTERS
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns walk through the Yu Gardens in Shanghai, China, April 24, 2024. Mark Schiefelbein/Pool via REUTERS
TT

In China, Blinken Urges Fair Treatment of American Companies

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns walk through the Yu Gardens in Shanghai, China, April 24, 2024. Mark Schiefelbein/Pool via REUTERS
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns walk through the Yu Gardens in Shanghai, China, April 24, 2024. Mark Schiefelbein/Pool via REUTERS

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday called on China to provide a level playing field for American businesses as he began a visit aimed at resolving a raft of contentious issues that could jeopardize the newly repaired relationship.
Blinken's trip is the latest high-level contact between the two nations that, along with working groups on issues from global trade to military communication, have tempered the public acrimony that drove relations to historic lows early last year, Reuters said.
But Washington and Beijing have been increasingly at odds over how American companies operate in China, Chinese exports and manufacturing capacity, and strains are also growing over Beijing's backing of Russia in its war in Ukraine.
State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that at a meeting with China's top official in Shanghai, Chen Jining, Blinken raised concerns about China's "trade policies and non-market economic practices."
Blinken also "stressed that the United States seeks a healthy economic competition with the PRC and a level playing field for US workers and firms operating in China."
The PRC, or People's Republic of China, is the country's official name.
China has dismissed as groundless criticism that its manufacturing capacity is excessive, adding that its industries, ranging from electric vehicles to solar panels, are competitive and innovative.
Chen said through translators that the recent call between the leaders of both countries had helped the "stable and healthy development of our two countries' relationship", adding: "Whether we choose cooperation or confrontation affects the well-being of both peoples, both countries, and the future of humanity."
While in Shanghai, Blinken also spoke with American and Chinese students at New York University's local campus, where he said intercultural interactions were "the best way to make sure that we start by hopefully understanding one another".
SUPPORT FOR RUSSIA
Blinken will head to Beijing on Friday for talks with his counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and possibly President Xi Jinping. Those meetings could be fraught.
Just as Blinken landed in Shanghai, President Joe Biden signed a rare bipartisan bill that included $8 billion to counter China's military might, as well as billions in defense aid for Taiwan and $61 billion in aid to Ukraine.
Biden also signed a separate bill tied to the aid legislation that bans TikTok in the US if its owner, the Chinese tech firm ByteDance, fails to divest the popular short video app over the next nine months to a year.
Blinken will press China to stop its firms from retooling and resupplying Russia's defense industrial base. Moscow invaded Ukraine days after agreeing a "no limits" partnership with Beijing, and while China has steered clear of providing arms, US officials warn Chinese companies are sending dual-use technology that helps Russia's war effort.
Without providing details, a senior State Department official told reporters that Washington was prepared to "take steps" against Chinese firms it believes are damaging US and European security.
State-run China Daily said in an editorial that there was "a huge question mark over what the discussions between Blinken and his hosts can yield" and that both sides "have been largely talking past each other."
"On the conflict in Ukraine, the world can see it clearly that the Ukraine issue is not an issue between China and the US, and the US side should not turn it into one," it said.
Other state media also highlighted the tensions over the differences. "Plenty of animosity remains, primarily fuelled by Washington's adherence to a zero-sum mindset and framing China as a threat," a commentary in state-run Xinhua news agency said.



Taiwan Says China Drills More about Intimidation, Propaganda than Starting War

A man stands on a jetty behind a tourist boat and Chinese flags on Pingtan island, opposite Taiwan in China’s southeast Fujian province on Sunday. (AFP)
A man stands on a jetty behind a tourist boat and Chinese flags on Pingtan island, opposite Taiwan in China’s southeast Fujian province on Sunday. (AFP)
TT

Taiwan Says China Drills More about Intimidation, Propaganda than Starting War

A man stands on a jetty behind a tourist boat and Chinese flags on Pingtan island, opposite Taiwan in China’s southeast Fujian province on Sunday. (AFP)
A man stands on a jetty behind a tourist boat and Chinese flags on Pingtan island, opposite Taiwan in China’s southeast Fujian province on Sunday. (AFP)

China's military drills last week were more about propaganda and intimidation than starting a war, but Chinese forces did show how they could react quickly, Taiwan's top security official said on Wednesday.
China said it carried out the two days of war games starting Thursday as "punishment" for new President Lai Ching-te's inauguration speech last week, in which he said the two sides of the Taiwan Strait were "not subordinate to each other", which China viewed as a declaration the two are separate countries, Reuters said.
China views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. Lai rejects China's sovereignty claims, saying only Taiwan's people can decide their future, and has repeatedly offered talks with Beijing but been rebuffed.
Speaking to reporters at parliament, Taiwan National Security Bureau Director-General Tsai Ming-yen said the aim of China's drills was not to go to war.
"The purpose of the military exercises was to intimidate," he said.
The drills were meant to show an external and domestic audience that Beijing "has absolute control over the situation in the Taiwan Strait", Tsai added.
Speaking in Beijing, Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, reiterated its list of complaints about Lai being a dangerous supporter of Taiwan's formal independence, and threatened continued Chinese military activity.
The drills were a "just action to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity", she said.
"As Taiwan's provocations for independence continue, the People's Liberation Army's actions to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity continue."
The government in Taipei says Taiwan is already an independent country, the Republic of China. The Republican government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with Mao Zedong's Communists who set up the People's Republic of China.
China says any decisions on Taiwan's future are for all of China's 1.4 billion people to make, not only Taiwan's 23 million, and has offered a Hong Kong-style "one country, two systems" autonomy model, though that has almost no public support on the island, according to opinion polls.
"Different systems are not an obstacle to reunification, let alone an excuse for separation," Zhu said.
China has never explained how it would integrate Taiwan's vibrant democracy and direct election of its leaders into any plan to govern the island.
China has in the past four years sent its military to areas around Taiwan on an almost daily basis, as it seeks to exert pressure on the island.
But China also appeared to be trying to keep the scope of these drills contained, Tsai's bureau said in a written report to lawmakers, noting there was no declaration of no-fly or no-sail zones and the exercises lasted only two days.
"The intention was to avoid the situation escalating and international intervention, but in the future it is feared (China) will continue its compound coercion against us, gradually changing the Taiwan Strait's status quo," it said.
Tsai added that Chinese forces mobilized almost as soon as China announced the drills early on Thursday.
"The speed was extremely fast, demonstrating rapid mobilization capabilities," he said.