– Antony Blinken, the top US diplomat, will visit China this week after the trip was postponed in February due to tensions between the two countries.– Blinken will meet senior Chinese officials to discuss maintaining open lines of communication, bilateral issues, and potential cooperation on global challenges.– US officials have lowered expectations for the trip, stating that it is not intended to achieve a breakthrough or transformation in the US-China relationship.– The focus of the trip will be on improving military-to-military communication, which has been a concern recently.– Blinken has already spoken with the Chinese Foreign Minister, emphasizing the importance of communication and raising areas of concern.
As seen on Al Jazeera, the United States has confirmed that its top diplomat, Antony Blinken, will visit China this week. This long-anticipated trip had been postponed in February amid increasingly fraught tension between the two superpowers. Blinken will become the highest-ranking Biden administration official to visit China on a trip that spans June 16 to 21 and will also include a visit to London, As seen on the Department of State.
In Beijing, Blinken will meet senior Chinese officials to discuss the “importance of maintaining open lines of communication” between the US and China, the statement said. It did not specify which officials. The top US diplomat “will also raise bilateral issues of concern, global and regional matters, and potential cooperation on shared transnational challenges”, the brief statement said.
However, US officials were quick to lower expectations. “We’re not going to Beijing with the intent of having some sort of breakthrough or transformation in the way that we deal with one another,” Daniel Kritenbrink, the Department of State’s top diplomat for East Asia, told reporters in a briefing call on Wednesday. “We’re coming to Beijing with a realistic, confident approach and a sincere desire to manage our competition in the most responsible way possible,” Kritenbrink said.
On the same call, White House Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell said Blinken will focus on forwarding “top line goals” of its agenda, but did not seek “to produce a long list of deliverables”. Topping those goals will be better military-to-military communication, which has proven a particular area of concern in recent times. “I believe Secretary Blinken will advocate strongly that these lines of communication are necessary,” Campbell told reporters. “They are how mature, strong militaries interact, and the stakes are just too high to avoid these critical lines of communication.”
On Tuesday, Blinken spoke by phone with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, stressing “the importance of maintaining open lines of communication to responsibly manage” the relationship, Department of State spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement. Blinken also “made clear the US would continue to use diplomatic engagements to raise areas of concern as well as areas of potential cooperation”, the statement said.
China took a more confrontational tone in a readout of the call with Blinken, saying that Qin had warned that relations between the two countries had faced “serious difficulties” and that the US should “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and harming China’s interests”. However, the readout also said that both sides had agreed to maintain communication.
The visit comes at a time when relations between the US and China are at their lowest point in decades. The two countries are at odds over a range of issues, including trade, human rights, and Taiwan. The US has also accused China of cyber-espionage and of being responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. China, for its part, has accused the US of interfering in its internal affairs and of trying to contain its rise as a global superpower.
Blinken’s visit to China is seen as an important opportunity to try to improve relations between the two countries. However, with both sides taking a cautious approach, it remains to be seen what concrete results the visit will produce.