Blinken visits Beijing to soothe US-China breakup worries 2023

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken travels to Beijing this weekend with modest prospects of making progress on the long list of problems between the two nations.

Analysts think he and his Chinese colleagues can prove that the world’s most important bilateral relationship won’t collapse. Sources stated Blinken may meet with Xi Jinping in China on June 18-19. He will visit China as the highest-ranking U.S. official since Biden entered office in January 2021.

In a pre-tour briefing on Wednesday, U.S. officials said they do not expect the trip to change U.S.-China relations. Qin Gang warned Blinken on Tuesday night to cease meddling in China’s affairs during a contentious phone chat. The visit might lead to a flurry of diplomatic engagements, including a meeting between Xi and U.S. President Joe Biden later in the year.

“Both sides want to show the rest of the world that they are managing the relationship responsibly,” said German Marshall Fund Asia program senior fellow Andrew Small. China prioritizes the global south. U.S. allies and partners. Even going through the motions benefits Washington and Beijing.”

Their deteriorating relations raise worries that they may fight over Taiwan, which China claims. China often drills near the island, including Sunday. “Facing the situation in the Taiwan Strait, I have repeatedly stressed that we will not escalate conflicts let alone provoke disputes, but we will firmly defend national sovereignty,” Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen addressed top naval personnel on Friday.

BIDEN-XI Meeting After the February Chinese surveillance balloon scandal,

Trade, microchips, and human rights divide the US and China. Despite U.S. initiatives, China’s unwillingness to allow regular military-to-military talks with Washington has worried its neighbors. On Wednesday, U.S. authorities prioritized crisis communication to mitigate danger.

“Anything that would lead to greater cooperation, greater dialogue and a lessening of tensions between Beijing and Washington is to be welcomed,” U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Wednesday.

U.S. officials said Blinken’s main focus would be “candid, direct and constructive” conversations, but breakthroughs on significant concerns like fentanyl precursors and Americans held in China are unlikely.

Beijing wants closer relations with Europe, the Middle East, and Africa to counter the Biden administration’s economic weaponization. Xi has visited some European leaders, including French President Emanuel Macron, and courted others, including U.S. ally Saudi Arabia. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo may visit after Blinken’s visit.

“Beijing agreed to the visit because it seems to be the one thing that is blocking many other things, such as working-level dialogues and the visits by other cabinet members,” said Yun Sun, head of the China Program at the Washington-based Stimson Center think tank. The leaders may meet at the September G20 conference in India and the November APEC summit in San Francisco.

“Xi does want to come to San Francisco,” Sun remarked. Besides APEC, he wants a bilateral with Biden. The foundation must be laid immediately.

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