- In a surprise meeting, Blinken met Chinese President Xi Jinping for a 35-minute meeting toward the end of his two-day visit.
- Blinken also met China's top diplomat Wang Yi as well as Foreign Minister Qin Gang during the visit.
- U.S. President Joe Biden said Secretary of State Antony Blinken "did a hell of a job" in Beijing, but he wasn't the only one who saw progress in the talks.
U.S. President Joe Biden said Secretary of State Antony Blinken "did a hell of a job" in Beijing.
His comments came after Blinken's high-profile diplomatic mission to China, aimed at soothing strained ties with Beijing.
"We're on the right trail here," Biden said Monday.
In a surprise meeting, Blinken met Chinese President Xi Jinping for a 35-minute meeting toward the end of his two-day visit. He is the highest-level American official to visit China in nearly five years.
Asked if he felt progress had been made in the Blinken-Xi meeting, the U.S. president responded: "You don't have to ask that. You can ask how much progress was made."
Blinken also met China's top diplomat Wang Yi as well as Foreign Minister Qin Gang during the visit.
Here are other takeaways from Blinken's trip to China:
Biden wasn't the only one who saw progress in the talks.
"The two sides have agreed to follow through the common understanding President Biden and I had reached in Bali," Xi said in a video carried by Chinese state-owned media CCTV.
Both sides also "made progress and reached agreement on some specific issues," he said without disclosing further details. "This is very good."
Xi called for stable relations with the U.S., saying the world needs the relationship of the two economic giants to be "generally stable."
The U.S. State Department described the talks as "candid, substantive, and constructive."
Blinken's meeting could pave the way for Biden to meet Xi in November.
"Both sides agreed on follow-on senior engagements in Washington and Beijing to continue open lines of communication," according to the State Department.
The secretary of State invited Qin to visit the U.S. and they agreed to schedule a reciprocal visit at a mutually suitable time, according to the statement.
While no date was announced, they agreed to maintain high-level interactions, according to the Chinese government.
The conversations between Qin and Blinken have been "largely positive" based on the readouts from both nations, said Mark Hannah, senior fellow at the Eurasia Group Foundation.
"While much gets left out of these official accounts, the language each side chooses to characterize the meetings is an indication of the tone which was struck," Hannah told CNBC.
Chinese state media quoted Xi as saying: "Competition among major powers does not conform to the trend of the times, let alone solve America's own problems and the challenges facing the world."
Bonnie Glaser, managing director of the Indo-Pacific program at German Marshall Fund, said this point in Xi's speech was "problematic."
"In my view, it will not be possible to stabilize bilateral ties unless Beijing accepts that competition is now the dominant feature of U.S.-China relations and requires active and effective management," Glaser told CNBC.
The Biden administration has been trying to convince the Chinese to accept competition as the mainstay of the relationship, and recognize that it is essential to work together to manage the competition and "prevent competition from veering into conflict," Glaser tweeted.
Tech rivalry between the U.S. and China also intensified in recent months, with the U.S. blocking China's access to advanced chip tech and China banning key infrastructure operators from buying U.S. tech giant Micron's products.
According to a People's Daily statement, Wang asked the U.S. to give up its so-called "China threat theory," and to lift sanctions against China and to stop suppressing China's technological development. The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on China's statement.
Robert Daly, director of the Wilson Center's Kissinger Institute on China and the U.S., acknowledged that the likelihood of war is low, but said the rivalry will go on.
"There's a joint decision, a joint realization that we mustn't go to war, but both countries are going to keep competing in every index of power all over the world, by all means short of war," Daly told CNBC before Xi's meeting with Blinken.
Blinken also said he raised concerns about China's "provocative actions in the Taiwan Strait, as well as in the South and East China Seas."
But he sought to assure Beijing: "On Taiwan, I reiterated the longstanding U.S. 'one China' policy. That policy has not changed."
China considers Taiwan part of its territory that needs to be reunified with the mainland. Beijing has never renounced the use of force against Taiwan and has been using increasingly aggressive rhetoric toward the island.
"We do not support Taiwan independence. We remain opposed to any unilateral changes to the status quo by either side. We continue to expect the peaceful resolution of cross-strait differences," said Blinken adding that Washington remains committed to the Taiwan Relations Act, including making sure that Taiwan has the ability to defend itself.
In his meeting with Blinken on Monday, Wang emphasized that "safeguarding national unity will always be the core of China's core interests." He added that the U.S. must "respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and clearly oppose 'Taiwan independence.'"
Geopolitical tensions could still remain high, however.
"Neither country's threat assessments are going down. They haven't changed their threat assessments. We haven't changed our intentions. We haven't changed our tactics," Daly told CNBC prior to the Xi-Blinken meeting.
"These dialogues are terrific, the more of them we have, the better — but there is no sign to date that either side is really changing any of its assessments of itself of the other," Daly told CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia" Monday.
The State Department said Blinken emphasized that the U.S. will always stand up for Americans' values, and addressed China's "unfair and nonmarket economic practices and recent actions against U.S. firms."
Xi maintained his stance that the U.S. must respect China and "not harm China's legitimate rights and interests," adding that Beijing will also respect the interests of the U.S. "and will not challenge or replace the U.S."
"Neither party can shape the other according to its own wishes, let alone deprive the other of its legitimate right to development," said Xi.