The balloon spat had prompted Blinken to postpone a planned visit to Beijing. That Feb. 5-6 trip would have been the first by a U.S. secretary of state to China in five years and was seen by both sides as an opportunity to stabilise ties.
On its part, Washington has been hoping to put a “floor” under relations that hit a dangerous low in August with China’s reaction to a visit to Taiwan by then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Blinken is set to depart Munich on Sunday morning. A failure by the two diplomats to get together in a meeting could be seen as a further blow to the already strained relationship.
The West has been wary of China’s response to the war in Ukraine, with some warning that a Russian victory would colour China’s actions towards Taiwan. China has refrained from condemning the war or calling it an “invasion”.
“If (Russian President Vladimir) Putin thinks he can wait us out, he is badly mistaken,” Harris said in a panel at the gathering of top politicians, military officers and defence industry chiefs and experts at the Munich conference.
“Time is not on his side.”
Wang reiterated a call for dialogue and suggested European countries “think calmly” about how to end the war.
Wang also said there were “some forces that seemingly don’t want negotiations to succeed, or for the war to end soon,” without specifying to whom he was referring.
In an interview with Reuters, European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen said Beijing was not neutral regarding Ukraine. “China has taken sides very clearly has signed the unlimited friendship agreement with Russia. So it has taken a specific position,” she said.
Russia, which has cast its “special military operation” in Ukraine as an existential battle with an aggressive and arrogant West, on Friday accused the United States of inciting Ukraine to escalate the war by condoning attacks on Crimea.
The Munich conference began on Friday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urging Western allies to speed up sending modern weaponry in what he cast as a “David-vs-Goliath” war for freedom against Russia.
Von der Leyen also outlined plans to speed up giving sorely needed munitions to Ukraine and replenish the bloc’s own stocks, while Poland signalled a willingness to send MiG fighter jets to Kyiv.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also met Wang at the conference. Berlin has been reviewing its own ties to Beijing since the invasion, wary of its economy’s heavy reliance on the Chinese market.
“We discussed intensively yesterday what a just peace would look like,” Baerbock said. Blinken also held a bilateral meeting with Baerbock on Friday.
“Not that you reward the attacker, the aggressor, but that you stand up for international law and for those who were attacked. China is as a permanent member of the UN Security Council obligated to use its influence to secure world peace.”