By Matt Berg
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to China to meet with Beijing’s senior officials this week, the State Department announced Wednesday.
During the trip, he’ll discuss the “importance of maintaining open lines of communication to responsibly manage” the relationship between the two countries, the statement said, which have become increasingly fraught in recent months. He’ll also stop in London to meet with officials and express support for Ukraine’s war efforts.
Blinken, who will leave on Friday and return Wednesday, will become the first secretary of State to visit China in five years and the first Cabinet-level official to do so in four years.
“We’re coming to Beijing with a realistic, confident approach and a sincere desire to manage our competition the most responsible way possible. We do hope at a minimum that we will achieve that goal, and we also do hope of course to make progress on a number of concrete issues,” Daniel Kritenbrink, assistant secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told reporters Wednesday morning. “It would be wise not to have expectations of a long list of deliverables because that’s not where we are, I think, in the bilateral relationship.”
Diplomatic efforts between the two nations have been especially arduous ever since Washington postponed Blinken’s planned trip to Beijing in February after a Chinese spy balloon was spotted floating across the continental United States.
After the balloon incident, China’s then-defense minister refused to speak with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, while the U.S. has since attempted to open the lines of communication. In a breakthrough earlier this month, Austin “shook hands but did not have a substantive exchange” with current Chinese defense minister Li Shangfu at a dinner in Singapore.