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USA. Antony Blinken will visit China

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken heads to China over the weekend. The purpose of the visit is to stabilize tense relations between the two world superpowers, but, as the US television CNN notes, “the mood in Beijing is not very friendly.”

U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a Wednesday statement that in Beijing Anthony Blinken will meet with “high-ranking PRC officials” to emphasize the value of keeping lines of communication open and “responsibly managing US-PRC relations.”

“It will also address bilateral issues, global and regional issues, and potential cooperation on common transnational challenges,” Miller wrote.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits ChinaSamuel Corum/PAP/EPA

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How long will Blinken’s visit to China last?

It is not clear how long Blinken’s visit to China will last. The State Department said that Blinken’s foreign stay will last from June 16 to 21, including the departure of the US foreign minister to London for a conference on the reconstruction of Ukraine. Chinese media say the visit will take place on June 18-19, while the AP previously reported that Blinken will meet his counterpart Qin Gang and possibly Chinese President Xi Jinping on June 18.

A few days before the visit, according to CNN, a top American diplomat was severely reprimanded by his Chinese host, who directly blamed Washington for the recent rise in tensions after Blinken canceled a trip to China in February this year. It was canceled by the US authorities due to the intrusion of a Chinese spy balloon into the space of the United States.

The shooting down of the Chinese balloon and Sino-American relations04.02TVN24

Appeals from the authorities in Beijing

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang urged the US to stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs in a telephone conversation with Blinken, CNN reported. Experts quoted by CNN believe the statement says a lot about Beijing’s low expectations for the visit, as well as its deep distrust of the administration’s aspirations Joe Biden to “thaw in frosty” relationships.

CNN also emphasizes that in recent days, Chinese state media has been silent about Blinken’s visit to their country. It will be the first trip by a high-ranking US official to China since Biden took office in January 2021.

Yun Sun, director of the China program at the Stimson Center think tank in Washington, noted that coverage of Blinken’s visit to China “is not as extensive or as enthusiastic as in the West.” He added that after the earlier postponement of the visit due to the balloon incident, “the Chinese fear another potential embarrassment.” “Expectations are low and carefully considered,” he said.

“Mixed Signals”

Another CNN interviewee, Wang Yong, a professor of international relations at Peking University, said that “the prevailing view in China is that US words and actions are inconsistent and that Americans don’t do what they say.”

In recent months, as recalled by CNN, seeking to resume high-level diplomatic talks, United States imposed sanctions on Chinese companies and forced allies to limit the export of advanced technologies to China, which caused distrust in Beijing.

– Mixed signals sent by the American side are very confusing. This means that the Chinese side does not have particularly high hopes for Blinken’s visit, Wang added.

Joint exercises of South Africa, Russia and China

Joint exercises of South Africa, Russia and ChinaReuters Archive

Expectations in Washington

CNN notes that the United States has also lowered its expectations. “We are not going to Beijing with the intention of achieving some kind of breakthrough or change in our relations,” Daniel Krittenbrink, the assistant secretary of state for Asian affairs, told reporters on Wednesday. Krittenbrink, who recently visited China, said Beijing “has expressed its desire to lower superpower tensions and the preparatory talks have been “substantive, productive and sincere.” He said he expected a “frank exchange” on Taiwan and Ukraine.

Krittenbrink said that Blinken is realistic about the visit to China and does not expect a breakthrough from it, but only to reduce the risk of misunderstandings and maintain communication between the capitals. The U.S. is also expected to continue its efforts to renew contacts between the two countries’ militaries, despite China’s refusal to do so for a long time.

A similar opinion was expressed on Friday by the US President’s national security adviser Jake Sullivanwho stated that “Blinken’s trip to China will be a major event, but probably not the most important in context US foreign policyAccording to Sullivan, one of Blinken’s main goals in China will be to contain the escalation in the relationship between the two countries in order to ensure that the US and China do not “turn into conflict”. “Energetic competition requires vigorous diplomacy,” he said.


Persistent tensions

Blinken’s visit is expected to take place despite tensions related to, among others, with the aggressive maneuvers of Chinese ships and aircraft during the interception of American vessels in the South China Sea.

The Wall Street Journal reported that China is building an electronic intelligence listening base in Cuba. The White House first denied this information, and then admitted that such a base has existed since 2019 and is being expanded.

Main photo source: Samuel Corum/PAP/EPA

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