Secretary of State Antony Blinken met China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang in Beijing today, marking the first visit by an American diplomat to China in nearly five years. The Secretary’s visit builds upon previous interactions following President Biden’s meeting with President Xi in Bali, during which they pledged to maintain open lines of communication to prevent misunderstandings.

The talks, which will span two days, aim to stabilize the strained relationship between the two countries. The visit comes after the postponement of an earlier trip by Blinken due to a suspected Chinese spy balloon flying in US airspace.

The meeting took place at the Diaoyutai State Guest House, where Qin welcomed Blinken. Both officials shook hands before their respective flags and then sat down with their delegations at long tables to initiate discussions.

According to the State Department, reopening lines of high-level communication and restoring stability in the relationship are the primary objectives.

Secretary Blinken’s trip to China has three primary objectives. Firstly, he aims to establish effective communication channels to facilitate discussions, address misunderstandings, and prevent miscalculations. This strategic approach is intended to manage competition between the two countries while avoiding conflict.

Secondly, the Secretary will advocate for US values and interests by expressing concerns on various issues and engaging in candid discussions about regional and global security matters.

Lastly, Secretary Blinken is committed to exploring potential cooperation with China on transnational challenges that align with the interests of the United States. This includes crucial areas such as climate change and global macroeconomic stability. Furthermore, he seeks to foster increased exchanges and interactions between the American and Chinese people.

Topics on the comprehensive agenda include the war in Ukraine, trade disputes over advanced computer technologies, the fentanyl drug epidemic in the US, and Chinese human rights conduct. Blinken is scheduled to hold meetings with Qin Gang and senior Chinese foreign policy official Wang Yi. However, it remains uncertain whether he will have a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Chinese officials have responded with skepticism to Blinken’s visit, questioning the sincerity of the US in its efforts to mend relations. Since the balloon incident, China has staged military exercises near Taiwan, a country that the US maintains close ties with. The incident has further strained relations between the two countries.

This visit by Blinken marks the highest-ranking US government official’s trip to China since President Joe Biden assumed office in January 2021.

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