U.S. Secretary of State Blinken heading to China to stabilize ties

WASHINGTON: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is traveling to China on Friday — a trip that was rescheduled from February after a suspected Chinese spy balloon flew through U.S. airspace.

But expectations are low that Blinken’s trip will reset the two countries’ fraught relationship.

Blinken is the first secretary of state to visit Beijing since 2018.

“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,” the State Department said.

He will also raise bilateral issues of concern, global and regional matters, and potential cooperation on shared transnational challenges, it said, referencing the People’s Republic of China.

In a tweet, Blinken said he and Qin “discussed ongoing efforts to maintain open channels of communication as well as bilateral and global issues.”

In Beijing, Chinese officials asked the United States to stop what they said was Washington’s undermining of China’s security and development interests, but added the two countries can manage differences and promote cooperation.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Wang Wenbin said during a Wednesday briefing that the Beijing government hopes the U.S. will “take concrete actions” to “work with China to effectively manage differences, promote exchanges and cooperation, [and] stabilize the relationship from further deterioration.”

Senior U.S. officials said topics high on the agenda during Blinken’s meetings in Beijing June 18-19 include regional security, counternarcotics, climate change, global macroeconomic stability, Americans wrongfully detained in China, as well as exchanges between American and Chinese people.

Officials said they would not anticipate “a long list of deliverables” after Blinken’s meetings in Beijing.

On Wednesday, Daniel Kritenbrink, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told reporters during a phone briefing that stopping illicit fentanyl “will feature prominently” in Blinken’s meetings in Beijing.



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