US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to travel to China this month on a long-delayed trip, according to US media outlets. The visit is seen as an opportunity for the top US diplomat to improve the strained relationship between the two countries. The trip was postponed in February after Washington claimed that a Chinese “spy balloon” had been spotted over US territory, prompting allegations of surveillance. While both countries have expressed a desire to avoid a “new Cold War”, ties have soured amid disagreements over trade, the status of Taiwan, China’s claims in the South China Sea, and a continuing US push against growing Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific, among other issues.
Blinken’s Trip to China
Citing unnamed US officials, The Associated Press reported on Friday that Blinken expects to be in the Chinese capital on June 18 for talks with top Chinese officials. That includes Foreign Minister Qin Gang and “possibly” President Xi Jinping, the news agency said. US media outlet Politico, citing two people familiar with the plans, also reported on Thursday that the trip could take place “as soon as next week”. However, neither the US Department of State nor the Chinese foreign ministry have confirmed the trip.
The Importance of Blinken’s Visit
Blinken’s trip to China would be the highest-level visit by a US official to China since former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2018, Politico reported. The visit is seen as an opportunity for the top US diplomat to improve the strained relationship between the two countries. The US and China have been at odds over a range of issues, including trade, Taiwan, and China’s claims in the South China Sea. The two countries have also been engaged in a war of words over the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tensions between the US and China have been rising in recent years, with both countries accusing each other of unfair trade practices and human rights violations. The US has also accused China of stealing intellectual property and engaging in cyber espionage. China, on the other hand, has accused the US of interfering in its internal affairs and trying to contain its rise as a global power.
The Importance of Open Lines of Communication
Despite the tensions between the two countries, the White House has previously said that the US and China are trying to “maintain open lines of communication and responsibly manage competition”. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, held talks with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, in early May in the Austrian capital of Vienna. Daniel Kritenbrink, the top US diplomat for the Asia-Pacific region, also travelled to China earlier this week. However, the Chinese defence minister reportedly turned down an offer by US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin to talk during a security symposium in Singapore last week.
The Importance of Managing Competition
The US and China are engaged in a competition for global influence, with both countries seeking to expand their spheres of influence and promote their respective ideologies. The US has been pushing back against China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region, while China has been seeking to expand its influence in Africa and other parts of the world. The two countries are also competing in the areas of technology and innovation, with both countries investing heavily in research and development.
Blinken’s trip to China is seen as an opportunity for the top US diplomat to improve the strained relationship between the two countries. While both countries have expressed a desire to avoid a “new Cold War”, ties have soured amid disagreements over trade, the status of Taiwan, China’s claims in the South China Sea, and a continuing US push against growing Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific, among other issues. The visit is an important step towards managing competition between the two countries and maintaining open lines of communication.