Antony Blinken postpones Beijing visit to June 18

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will travel to China next week, officials said.

His visit was canceled in February after controversy over a suspicious observation balloon and was rescheduled.

He is expected to arrive in Beijing on June 18, the first trip by a top US diplomat to China since his predecessor, Mike Pompeo, in October 2018, US officials said on condition of anonymity.

His visit was not officially announced by the State Department. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said recently that the U.S. would announce the trip of senior officials „in the near future,” without details.

Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping met in Bali in November and agreed to try to prevent high tensions from spiraling out of control, including by sending Blinken to Beijing.

Blinken abruptly canceled a planned trip in early February after the U.S. said it detected and later shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon flying over American territory, a denial by Beijing that sparked outrage from U.S. lawmakers and Beijing.

But the two sides have recently tried to rein in tensions, including an extensive, closed-door meeting between Biden’s national security adviser Jack Sullivan and top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi in Vienna last month.

Tensions have risen sharply between the world’s two largest economies in recent years, particularly over Taiwan, which Beijing claims is a self-ruled democracy and has not ruled out a takeover by force.

The two countries are at odds over China’s increasingly assertive stance in the region and over trade and human rights.

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However, Biden has looked to limited areas of cooperation with China, such as climate change, in contrast to the outright hostile stance adopted at the end of his predecessor Donald Trump’s administration.

(with inputs from AFP)

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Date Updated: Jun 10, 2023 09:24:37 IST

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