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Washington, June 15 – After he cancelled his initial visit to Beijing earlier this year due to a Chinese spy balloon transiting the US, Secretary of State Antony Blinken will embark on a fresh visit to the Asian giant this weekend amid thawed bilateral ties.
Blinken will be the first Biden administration official to travel to China and also the first since 2019, reports CNN.
Confirming the visit, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink said on Wednesday that the two nations came “to the shared conclusion that now is the right time to engage at this level”.
Kritenbrink said he would not expect “a long list of deliverables” to come out of the visit, but described it as “a really critical series of engagements that we’ll have in Beijing at a crucial time in the relationship that we again hope will, at a minimum, reduce the risk of miscalculation so that we do not veer into potential conflict”.
He said the agenda would focus on three main goals: establishing communication channels “that are open and empowered to discuss important challenges, address misperceptions and prevent miscalculation”; discussing US concerns “on a range of issues” as well as on “a host of regional and global security matters”; and “exploring potential cooperation on transnational challenges when it is in our interest in areas such as climate and global macroeconomic stability”.
In recent months, there have been a number of engagements between US and Chinese officials, including National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Kritenbrink himself
“I think there’s a realisation on both sides that it is important to have these channels of communication,” CNN quoted the Assistant Secretary as saying.
In a statement also on Wednesday, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that Blinken would meet “senior PRC officials” while in Beijing, adding that “we expect a series of visits in both directions in the period ahead” following the Secretary of State’s visit.
But neither Kritenbrink or Miller did not say if Blinken would meet Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Prior to the public announcement of the trip, Blinken spoke on the phone with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang.
China’s Foreign Ministry said Qin used that call to stress “that the US needs to respect China’s concerns, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, and stop undermining China’s sovereignty, security and development interests in the name of competition”.