1708100494 Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meet in Munich

Wang is scheduled to meet the European Union's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, on Friday evening. He is also expected to meet British Foreign Secretary David Cameron.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of StateUS Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the Munich Security Conference on Friday. Photo: AP

Neither the U.S. nor Chinese sides immediately issued statements about the meeting.

The frantic diplomatic activity underpins a relative calm in China-US relations in recent months following a high-profile summit between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping in California in November.

Wang also held extensive talks with U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan in Bangkok last month.

“Both countries are trying to manage the relationship more effectively than before, precisely because they want to avoid a 'lose-lose',” Ian Bremmer, president of consultancy Eurasia Group, said on the sidelines of the summit.

China advocates for an “equal and orderly multipolar world” at the Munich Security Forum

“This happens despite the fact that there is no trust in the relationship, there is no unity in the relationship, but a tremendous amount of interdependence. And I think it will last for a while at least.”

A year ago, Wang and Blinken met at the same location, albeit at a diplomatic low point, after a heated dispute over a Chinese surveillance balloon traveling over North America. The U.S. shot down the balloon off the coast of South Carolina and retrieved it for examination.

The Chinese statement said at the time that Wang “explained China's strong position on the so-called 'balloon incident' and called on the US to “repair the damage that its abuse of force has inflicted on China-US relations.”

The U.S. said at the time that Blinken “spoke about the unacceptable violation of U.S. sovereignty and international law by the People's Republic of China's high-altitude surveillance balloon in U.S. territorial airspace and underscored that this irresponsible act must never occur again.”

1708100482 727 Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of StateAs news of his death spread on Friday, flowers and a portrait of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny were laid near the Russian embassy. Photo: Portal

Friday was the first day of the Munich Security Conference, which was overshadowed by the announced death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in a high-security prison in the Arctic Circle.

A number of Western officials condemned Moscow over Navalny's death. Harris said that Washington was “working to confirm the news,” adding: “Whatever story they tell, let's be clear that Russia is responsible.”

Navalny's wife, Yulia, took the stage immediately after Harris, just hours after news of her husband's death appeared in Russian media. She received a standing ovation from the assembled leaders.

“We have probably all seen the terrible news today. I wondered whether I should come here or get on a plane to go to my children. And then I asked what Alexey would do in my place. And I’m sure he would be here,” Yulia Navalny said.

1708100485 390 Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of StateYulia Navalny left the conference after speaking there, just hours after Russian state media reported her husband's death. Photo: dpa via AP

In Friday's debates, China played second fiddle to the geopolitical unrest in the Middle East, the war in Ukraine and the upcoming US elections.

“We know that China still exists, but suddenly we are no longer talking about China… it is clear that China, the big elephant in the room, is not the focus of our concerns,” said Borrell, the EU's top diplomat on the sidelines summit.

“On the television screens you see people being killed or injured. Destruction is much more appealing to the eye than a theory of economic security or China's expansion in the South China Sea. But these events continue… and sooner or later there will be another crisis,” he added.

Harris, meanwhile, used her speech to reassure her allies that Biden would remain loyal to the transatlantic NATO alliance and Ukraine if he wins re-election in November.

Former US President Donald Trump, Biden's likely Republican opponent, has said in recent days that he would not defend a NATO ally if Russia attacked it. Harris dismissed this “worldview” as “dangerous, destabilizing and actually short-sighted” and suggested it would embolden China.

Biden criticizes Trump's “stupid” and “dangerous” NATO threats

“Imagine if we went easy on Putin, let alone encouraged him. History gives a clue: if we see an oppressor invade his neighbor with impunity, he will continue. And in the case of Putin, that would mean that all of Europe would be threatened,” Harris said.

“If we fail to impose serious consequences on Russia, other authoritarians around the world would be emboldened. Because you see, they would be watching – watching and drawing lessons,” she added.