QUESTION: Secretary Blinken, thank you for joining us on this busy day. We appreciate it.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Good to be with you, Nora. Thanks.
QUESTION: You attended the meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and after the summit President Xi said China is ready to be a partner and friend of the United States. Do you see China as a partner and friend of the U.S.?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Nora, this is one of the most consequential relationships we have, one of the most consequential relationships between any two countries in the world, and we have an obligation to try to responsibly manage that relationship.
Yesterday we agreed that our militaries would start talking again at the most senior levels and at the operational level. And this is a very important way of trying to avoid a miscalculation, a mistake that could lead to conflict.
Second, in terms of actually making a difference in the lives of the American people, the number one killer of Americans aged 18 to 49 is fentanyl – not car accidents, not guns, not cancer, it’s fentanyl. And what’s happened is the chemical precursors, the ingredients used to make fentanyl, have been coming from China, going to the Western Hemisphere, turned into fentanyl, then coming into the United States.
We now have an agreement with China to take concrete action against the companies that are engaged in this practice.
QUESTION: Well, how can we trust that China is going to carry through with that crackdown on those chemicals that are sent to Mexico that then are turned into fentanyl?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: As the President said yesterday, trust but verify, and that’s what we’re doing.
QUESTION: Secretary Blinken, when President Biden called President Xi a dictator last night, there were cameras on you, and you looked visibly uncomfortable. China today called that wrong and irresponsible. What was going through your mind, and is that the position of the U.S. Government?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, it’s not exactly a secret that we have two very different systems, and the President always speaks candidly and he speaks for all of us. Look, Nora, it’s clear that we will continue to say things and continue to do things that China doesn’t like, just as I assume that they will continue to do and say things that we don’t like.
But what’s so important about the meeting yesterday, about all the work we’ve been doing over the last six months to make sure that we’re engaged diplomatically with them, is precisely to make sure that for the things that really matter – pursuing this competition in a way that doesn’t become conflict, managing our differences, and also looking for areas of cooperation.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thank you.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thanks.