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The US and China talk past each other on most issues, but at least they’re still talking

Blinken went out of his way to champion the importance of U.S.-China exchanges at all levels.

Antony BlinkenBEIJING: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up his just-concluded latest visit to China with a stop at a Beijing record store where he bought albums by Taylor Swift and Chinese rocker Dou Wei in a symbolic nod to cross-cultural exchanges and understanding he had been promoting for three days.

Music, he said at the Li-Pi shop on his way to the airport late Friday, “is the best connector, regardless of geography.”

Yet Swift’s “Midnights” and Dou Wei’s “Black Dream” could just as easily represent the seemingly intractable divisions in the deeply troubled relationship between the world’s two largest economies that both sides publicly and privately blame on the other.

Blinken and his Chinese interlocutors, including Chinese President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, all referred to these rifts even as they extolled the virtues of keeping communication channels open to manage these differences and avoid misunderstandings and miscalculations.

Blinken went out of his way to champion the importance of U.S.-China exchanges at all levels. In Shanghai, he ate at a famous soup dumpling restaurant, attended a Chinese basketball playoff game and visited with American and Chinese students at the New York University branch. In his official meetings with Chinese leaders in Beijing, he spoke repeatedly of improvements in ties over the past year.

But he also stressed that the U.S. has serious and growing concerns with China’s policies and practices on the local, regional and global stages. And, he said, the U.S. would not back down. “America will always defend our core interests and values,” he said.

On several occasions, he slammed Chinese overproduction of electric vehicles that threatened to have detrimental effects on U.S. and European automakers and complained that China was not doing enough to stop the production and export of synthetic opioid precursors.

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