The U.S. State Department has confirmed that Antony Blinken, the Secretary of State will travel to China this weekend.
The trip is part of the Biden administration’s effort to repair deteriorating ties between Washington and Beijing and keep lines of communication open.
Blinken will be the topmost U.S. official to visit China since President Joe Biden took office. His visit had initially been planned for earlier this year but was postponed indefinitely after the discovery and shootdown of what the U.S. claimed was a Chinese spy balloon.
The State Department announced that Blinken had a conversation via phone call with his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Qin Gang, on Tuesday, June 13, 2023 night to confirm his trip, which will commence on Sunday, June 18, 2023. Blinken will depart Washington late Friday, June 16, 2023.
China’s foreign ministry disclosed that during the call, Qin urged the United States to respect “China’s core concerns” such as the issue of Taiwan’s self-rule, “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, and stop harming China’s sovereignty, security and development interests in the name of competition.”
Qin noted China-U.S. ties “have encountered new difficulties and challenges” since the beginning of the year, and the two sides’ responsibility is to work together to properly manage differences, promote exchanges and cooperation and stabilize relations, the ministry added.
In announcing Blinken’s trip, the U.S State Department disclosed, “While in Beijing, Secretary Blinken will meet with senior PRC officials where he will discuss the importance of maintaining open lines of communication to responsibly manage the U.S.-PRC relationship.”
PRC stands for the People’s Republic of China.
“He will also raise bilateral issues of concern, global and regional matters, and potential cooperation on shared transnational challenges,” the department added.
U.S. officials divulged that Blinken, who will be the first Secretary of State to visit China since 2018, expects to meet with Qin on Sunday, as well as China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, and possibly Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday, June 19, 2023.
U.S Not Expecting Instant Breakthrough
Daniel Kritenbrink, the Department of State’s top diplomat for East Asia, told reporters in a briefing, “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.”
“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.
Kritenbrink, traveled to China last week along with a senior National Security Council official to finalize details of Blinken’s trip.
Blinken’s trip will take place amid numerous difficulties in US-China relations, which have increasingly deteriorated over the past several years starting with trade and industrial espionage that started with the Trump administration. China depends on such alliances to support its diplomatic posture.
At their meeting in Bali last year, Xi and Biden agreed that the world’s two biggest economies must keep in touch and take safeguards to make sure there are no errors in their global rivalry that could result in conflict. It was during this meeting that Biden’s visit was also agreed upon.
Blinken’s initial trip was supposed to take place in February but was postponed due to the spy balloon incident. Beijing says that the object was a meteorological balloon that got lost.