In an announcement from US officials on Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to visit China on June 18. This highly anticipated visit comes as a reschedule from an earlier trip that was scrapped in February due to controversy over an alleged Chinese surveillance balloon over U.S. territory.
This marks the first time a senior U.S. diplomat will travel to China since the previous Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo’s visit in October 2018. These developments were communicated by U.S. officials who wished to remain anonymous. The State Department is yet to make an official announcement about this visit. John Kirby, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, hinted at imminent announcements about senior official visits, however, provided no specifics.
The genesis of Blinken’s visit can be traced back to a meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Bali last November. The leaders agreed on efforts to control escalating tensions, including a proposed visit by Blinken to Beijing.
An earlier visit by Blinken planned for February, was abruptly canceled after U.S. reports of detecting and subsequently shooting down a Chinese surveillance balloon over the U.S. mainland. This incident sparked outrage from U.S. lawmakers and denial from Beijing.
In recent times, efforts have been made to manage tensions between the two global powerhouses, including a confidential meeting between Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and Chinese diplomat Wang Yi in Vienna last month.
The relationship between the two leading global economies has been fraught with tension recently, primarily over Taiwan, a self-governing democracy claimed by Beijing. There are also conflicts over China’s assertive actions in the region, trade discrepancies, and human rights concerns.
Contrasting the adversarial stance taken during Donald Trump’s administration, President Biden has been exploring areas of possible cooperation with China, such as tackling climate change.