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Blinken set to land in China on rare trip with little hope for any breakthrough


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken boards his plane for his trip to China and the UK from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, US, June 16, 2023. (REUTERS)

TOKYO — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due to arrive in Beijing on Sunday, the first senior US diplomat to visit China in five years, amid frosty bilateral relations and dim prospects for a breakthrough on the long list of disputes between the two largest in the world. savings.

After postponing a trip in February after a suspected Chinese spy balloon flew over US airspace, Blinken is set to become the highest-ranking US government official to visit China since the president took office. Joe Biden in January 2021.

During his trip from June 18 to 19, he is expected to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi and possibly President Xi Jinping, and work to establish open and sustainable communication channels for ensure the strategic rivalry between the two countries. does not escalate into conflict.

It will be a journey also closely watched by the rest of the world, as any escalation between superpowers could have global repercussions on everything from financial markets to trade routes and practices and global supply chains.

“There is recognition on both sides that we need to have high-level communication channels,” a senior State Department official told reporters during a refueling stop in Tokyo en route to Beijing. .

“The fact that we are at an important point in the relationship where I think reducing the risk of miscalculation or, as our Chinese friends often say, stopping the downward spiral of the relationship, is something important” , the official said.

Ties between the countries have deteriorated across the board, raising fears they could one day clash militarily on the self-governing island of Taiwan, which China claims as its own. They also disagree on issues ranging from trade, US efforts to curb China’s semiconductor industry and Beijing’s human rights record.

What is particularly alarming for China’s neighbors is its reluctance to engage in regular military talks with Washington, despite repeated attempts by the United States.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday before departing for Beijing, Blinken said the trip had three main objectives: to establish crisis management mechanisms, to advance the interests of the United States and its allies and speak directly about related concerns, and explore areas of potential cooperation.

“If we want to make sure, like we are, that the competition we have with China doesn’t escalate into conflict, start by communicating,” Blinken said. He said he would also raise the issue of US citizens detained in China on charges Washington considers politically motivated.

But U.S. officials on a conference call previewing the trip earlier in the week played down any expectation of significant progress. While Blinken’s primary focus will be “frank, direct and constructive” discussions, the officials said, breakthroughs are not likely on major issues, including the flow of fentanyl precursors and Americans detained in China.

But Blinken’s visit is expected to pave the way for more bilateral meetings in the coming months, including possible trips by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. It could also pave the way for meetings between Xi and Biden at multilateral summits later in the year.

Biden and Xi’s meeting in Bali last November briefly allayed fears of a new Cold War, but following the flight of an alleged Chinese spy balloon over the United States in February that led Blinken to postponing a visit to Beijing scheduled for that month, high-level communication was scarce.

The US official also said trying to get cooperation from China to stem the flow of fentanyl precursors was going to be a key item on the agenda. The Chinese side has been reluctant to cooperate on the issue, US officials said.


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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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