Blinken to engage Chinese counterparts during visit to China next week

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Antony Blinken

21st April 2024 – (Washington) U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to visit China next week, marking a critical juncture in US-China relations. The visit, scheduled from 24th to 26th April, comes as the Biden administration seeks to balance robust diplomatic engagement with firm stances on contentious issues.

Blinken’s itinerary includes stops in both Shanghai and Beijing, where he will engage with senior Chinese officials, including Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Although an audience with President Xi Jinping is anticipated, confirmation of such a high-level meeting remains pending.

This diplomatic mission, Blinken’s second to China in less than a year, aims to address a spectrum of bilateral, regional, and global challenges. The discussions will cover pressing topics such as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, tensions over Taiwan and the South China Sea, and the proliferation of synthetic opioids. Moreover, the agenda includes talks on resuming counter-narcotic efforts, enhancing military communication, and fostering stronger people-to-people ties.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller underscored the importance of responsibly managing the competitive aspects of the US-China relationship, even in areas of disagreement. This visit follows a recent telephone conversation between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi, wherein both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to maintaining open lines of high-level communication—a consensus first reached during their face-to-face summit in California last year.

Since then, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other senior officials have visited China, signalling continued efforts to keep diplomatic channels active despite underlying frictions. These include sharp disagreements over China’s perceived support for Russia amidst its military actions in Ukraine and issues surrounding trade and industrial policies.

In the lead-up to the U.S. presidential election in November, the Biden administration is particularly vigilant about presenting a balanced approach. While striving to maintain stable relations, it is also amplifying rhetoric on trade, highlighted by President Biden’s recent proposal to triple tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminium.

Elizabeth Allen, Daniel Kritenbrink, Todd Robinson, and Nathaniel Fick are among the notable State Department officials slated to accompany Blinken. Their collective expertise spans public diplomacy, East Asian affairs, international narcotics, and cyber policy, ensuring a well-rounded diplomatic approach.