US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to make a much-anticipated visit to China, according to reports by several US media sources.
Amid increasing tensions between the two world powers, this trip is viewed as a crucial step toward strengthening diplomatic ties with Beijing. Blinken’s itinerary may include high-level meetings with top Chinese officials, including Foreign Minister Qin Gang and, potentially, President Xi Jinping. The visit is scheduled for June 18, though neither the US Department of State nor the Chinese foreign ministry has offered official confirmation.
Earlier this year, Blinken’s planned journey to China was shelved following a controversial incident in which a Chinese “spy balloon” was detected over US soil. This event led to allegations of espionage and escalated tensions between the two nations. The Chinese government, expressing regret over the incident, insisted that the balloon was a civilian airship utilized for meteorological research. In response to this perceived breach of sovereignty, President Joe Biden ordered the balloon to be shot down, a decision met with condemnation from Chinese officials.
Blinken, addressing the balloon incident, stated, “It’s very important to emphasize that the presence of this surveillance balloon over the United States, in our skies, is a clear violation of our sovereignty, a clear violation of international law and clearly unacceptable.” This situation further complicated an already strained US-China relationship.
The two countries have seen a steady decline in their ties due to trade disputes, China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, the status of Taiwan, and the ongoing US campaign to curb China’s expanding influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
Despite these adversarial dynamics, Washington and Beijing have expressed a shared interest in preventing a “new Cold War.” The White House maintains that the two global powers are making concerted efforts to “maintain open lines of communication and responsibly manage competition.”
Blinken’s upcoming trip would be the highest-level visit by a US official to China since the tenure of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2018.