The first visit of its kind since 2018.. Blinken is in Beijing to ease tensions

The US Secretary of State arrived Anthony Blinken Sunday morning to Beijing, on a visit that is the most high-profile by a US diplomat since 2018 and aims to try to ease bilateral tensions.

And at a time when much progress is not expected due to the existence of many points of contention, the goal remains to work to start a diplomatic thaw and maintain a dialogue to “responsibly manage Sino-American relations,” according to the US State Department.

Time is running out because next year is the deadline for holding elections in both the United States and Taiwan, which China considers one of its provinces that it wants to re-annex by force if necessary.

Blinken is spending two days in the Chinese capital as part of this visit, which was originally scheduled for February, but was suddenly canceled at the time, after a Chinese balloon flew over American territory, which Washington considered to be for “espionage” purposes, while Beijing confirmed that it was a meteorological vehicle that deviated from its course.

Speaking in Washington before his departure, Blinken wanted to be somewhat optimistic. He said this two-day visit should “open direct lines of communication so that our two countries can responsibly manage our relationship, including by addressing some challenges and bad perceptions and in order to avoid miscalculations.”

He added that “intense competition requires continuous diplomacy to ensure that it does not turn into a confrontation or conflict” because “the world expects the cooperation of the United States and China.”

Blinken was speaking at a news conference alongside his Singaporean counterpart, Vivian Balakrishnan. The latter described the Sino-American relationship as a “challenge of the century,” saying, “The rest of the world will watch you. We hope, and I believe, that you will be able to manage your differences.”

Taiwan is the most thorny file

Taiwan represents the thorniest issue between the two powers. Beijing carried out historic military maneuvers around the island in August in response to a visit to Taiwan by then US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as part of an Asian tour.

Before Blinken’s visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the United States should “respect China’s core concerns” and cooperate with Beijing.

“The United States should abandon the illusion of dealing with China from a position of strength. China and the United States should develop relations based on mutual respect and equality, and respect their differences,” he added.

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