Blinken met with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang

  • Blingen’s original travel plans for February were disrupted by news that a Chinese spy balloon had flown over American airspace.
  • Blinken’s trip makes him the highest-ranking US official to visit China since Biden became president, and the first US secretary of state to do so in nearly five years.
  • Blinken is scheduled to have a working dinner with Qin later Sunday at the Dioudai State Guesthouse.

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken (L) walks with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang (R) before a meeting at the Daoyudai State Guesthouse in Beijing on June 18, 2023.

Leah Millis | Afp | Good pictures

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang and top diplomat Wang Yi in Beijing on Sunday in a high-stakes diplomatic mission to cool US-China tensions that have clouded geopolitics in recent months.

Blinken’s trip makes him the highest-ranking US official to visit China since Joe Biden became president, and the first US secretary of state to do so in nearly five years.

Blingen’s original travel plans for February were disrupted by news that a Chinese spy balloon had flown over American airspace. The U.S. eventually shot down the balloon for allegedly spying, and tensions between the world’s two largest economies have remained tense ever since. Beijing insisted the balloon was an unnamed weather observation, and it had definitely exploded.

Blinken is scheduled to have a working dinner with Qin, who was formerly China’s ambassador to the United States, at the Dioyudai State Guesthouse late Sunday. Some information suggests. Blinken is also expected to meet President Xi Jinping on Monday during his two-day visit.

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Expectations for a significant recovery in US-China relations, particularly as a result of Blinken’s visit, remain low. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement last week Blinken will discuss the importance of maintaining open lines of communication and “raise possible cooperation on bilateral concerns, global and regional matters, and shared transnational challenges.”

The US defense chief and his Chinese counterpart did not have a formal meeting at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue event in Singapore earlier this month. And more broadly, international travel restrictions have limited communication between the US and Chinese governments during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In August, a controversial trip to Taiwan by then-Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi drew the ire of Beijing. Beijing considers Taiwan part of its territory and has no right to maintain diplomatic relations of its own. The United States recognizes Beijing as the sole legitimate government of China, while maintaining unofficial relations with the island.

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Biden’s visit to Beijing could pave the way for a November meeting between Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi – their first since Bali in November, a day before the start of the G-20 summit.

In late May, the US Commerce Secretary and her Chinese counterpart met in Washington, and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is also expected to visit China at an unspecified time.

China’s new ambassador to the U.S., Xie Feng, arrived in the U.S. at the end of May, nearly six months after the position was vacant. Biden, meanwhile, said he expected US-China tensions to “start to thaw soon.”

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Biden and Xi are expected to meet again during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ summit in San Francisco in November.

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