July 18, 2024

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Blinken meets a Chinese FM and plans a trip to Beijing.

The State Department has announced that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be visiting Beijing as part of an effort to uphold the agreement between US President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping to maintain open lines of communication. In a statement released by State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller, it was revealed that Blinken’s trip will also include a stop in London and will take place from June 16 to June 21.

Prior to his upcoming visit, Blinken engaged in a conversation with China’s foreign minister, Qin Gang, on Tuesday. During the discussion, Blinken emphasised the importance of maintaining open lines of communication in order to prevent any misunderstandings or conflicts. They also covered various bilateral and global issues, with Blinken making it clear that the United States would continue to utilise diplomatic engagements to address areas of concern and explore potential areas of cooperation with China.

The decision to schedule Blinken’s visit stems from the commitment made by Biden and Xi during their meeting in Bali last year to stay engaged with one another. In a White House readout, Biden conveyed to the Chinese leader that while the US would remain a strong competitor, it was crucial to avoid any conflicts. This necessitates the need for both sides to maintain open channels of communication, which led to the planning of Blinken’s visit.

However, an incident involving a Chinese surveillance balloon crossing US territory in early February caused public outrage and resulted in the postponement of Blinken’s original trip to Beijing. Additionally, the US obtained intelligence suggesting that China was preparing to provide lethal arms to Russia, which would support Moscow in the ongoing war in Ukraine. This added pressure on China to refrain from such actions.

In May, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with Wang Yi, a senior foreign policy official of the Chinese Communist Party, in Vienna. It was reported at that time that this meeting would pave the way for Blinken’s visit to China. An administration official emphasised that the visit should not be seen as a “reset” in the US-China relationship or a dilution of the US approach outlined in its national defence and national security strategy documents.