Anthony Blinken is visiting China this month in a sign of easing tensions

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will travel to China this month in the latest sign that Beijing and Washington are beginning to stabilize a volatile bilateral relationship that has sunk to its lowest level in decades.

Blinken is expected to visit in the coming weeks, according to two people familiar with his plans. Blinken abruptly canceled a mission in February on suspicion of a US spy balloon, raising efforts to mend ties.

The US diplomat’s visit would mark renewed progress in reestablishing high-level engagement between Washington and Beijing. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to try to build a „platform” under the relationship at the G20 summit in Bali in November, but their efforts were derailed by the balloon episode.

Speaking at the G7 summit in Hiroshima last month, Biden raised hopes that the countries had moved on from the balloon incident and said he expected an immediate „thump” in relations.

Both sides have resumed regular contacts in recent weeks. The Financial Times reported last week that CIA Director Bill Burns made a secret trip to Beijing, making him the most senior Biden administration official to visit China. His visit was at the invitation of China, two people familiar with the matter said.

Daniel Grittenbrink, the top State Department official for East Asian affairs, and Sarah Beran, the National Security Council’s top official for China and Taiwan, met with their counterparts in Beijing on Monday. In statements, the two sides said the talks aimed at improving relations were „sincere and fruitful”.

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Last month, US National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan held two days of talks with Wang Yi, China’s top foreign policy official, in Vienna. The US is trying to arrange a phone call between Biden and Xi to build momentum after months of little progress.

China had previously refused to agree to reschedule Blinken’s visit due to dissatisfaction with his cancellation of his visit in February and concern that Washington might embarrass Beijing by releasing the results of an FBI investigation into the balloon incident while he was in Beijing. China.

In another sign of progress, Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao recently met with US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in Washington, making the first senior Chinese visit to Washington since January 2020. He also met Catherine Doe, the top US trade official. Detroit.

Xie Feng, China’s new ambassador to the United States, arrived in Washington last month after a long delay since his predecessor Qin Gang left as foreign minister.

The State Department did not confirm Blinken’s immediate trip to China, saying his visit would be rescheduled „when conditions permit.” News of the trip was first reported by Bloomberg.

Despite signs of growing engagement, countries are still struggling to renew military-to-military communication channels.

China’s Defense Minister Li Shangfu refused to meet his US counterpart Lloyd Austin at the Shangri-La Dialogue Asia security forum in Singapore last week because Washington refused to lift its sanctions on the general.

The U.S. says the military’s communication channels are critical because of an increasing number of what officials describe as dangerous interceptions by Chinese fighters in the South China Sea. It also accused a Chinese warship of recklessly sailing close to a US naval ship in the Taiwan Strait on Saturday.

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