The United States and China are engaged in an increasingly heated competition, and on Sunday, the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken started the highest-level trip by a US official to China in over five years. The two countries are attempting to dial back the degree of tension in their conflict.
Both parties have expressed the cautious optimism that better communication and the avoidance of confrontation may be achieved, despite the fact that the world’s two largest economies are at odds over a variety of topics, including regional security, technology, and trade.
However, officials have indicated that they do not expect Blinken’s two days in Beijing to result in a significant breakthrough.
Blinken’s trip was supposed to take place in February, but he quickly changed his plans after the United States complained and then shot down what it alleged was a Chinese surveillance balloon flying over its territory. Blinken’s trip was initially slated to take place in February.
As Blinken was preparing to leave for China, US Vice President Joe Biden downplayed the balloon incident by saying, “I don’t think the leadership knew where it was, knew what was in it, and knew what was going on.”
“I think it was more embarrassing than it was intentional,” Biden told reporters on Saturday. “I think it was more embarrassing than it was intentionally.”
After having a lengthy and very friendly conversation with President Xi Jinping in November on the margins of a Group of 20 summit in Bali, where they agreed on Blinken’s visit, Biden stated that he hoped they would meet again in the future.
“I’m hoping that, over the course of the next several months, I’ll be meeting with Xi again and talking about legitimate differences we have, but also how there’s areas where we can get along,” Biden added.
The next meeting of the Group of Twenty will take place in September in New Delhi, and Xi has been asked to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in November in San Francisco, which will be hosted by the United States. Both presidents are expected to go.
Blinken is scheduled to meet with high-ranking Chinese officials, including at a banquet at the state guesthouse located in the historic Diaoyutai gardens.
He has stated that he intends to attempt to avoid making “miscalculations” and to “responsibly manage” ties with the nation that officials in the United States, regardless of political affiliation, have regarded as posing the biggest threat to Washington’s global supremacy.
“Intense competition requires sustained diplomacy to ensure that competition does not veer into confrontation or conflict,” Blinken said on Friday in Washington. “This will ensure that competition does not veer into conflict.”
The United States of America and China are at conflict with one another about a wide range of topics, including trade, technology, and Taiwan.
In retaliation for the acts of senior politicians in the United States, Beijing has twice staged military exercises in the area around Taiwan since August. The Chinese government has also not ruled out the possibility of forcibly capturing the self-governing democracy.
Prior to Blinken’s visit, a spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry named Wang Wenbin stated that the United States needs to “respect China’s core concerns” and “give up the illusion of dealing with China ‘from a position of strength'”.
The United States fears the military use of high-end semiconductors and is keen to prevent the communist state from dominating next-generation technology. These concerns have caused particular annoyance in Beijing, which has been caused by Vice President Joe Biden’s limitations on the shipment of high-end semiconductors to China.
Blinken is likely to encourage China to reduce precursor chemicals supplied to Latin America to create fentanyl, the potent opioid fueling an addiction pandemic that kills tens of thousands of Americans each year. This is an increasing domestic issue for the United States. Blinken is expected to take this action.
“We’re going to discuss this issue directly, and we’re going to be looking for steps to reduce the scale of the problem,” said a US official who was traveling with Blinken at the time.
Blinken’s visit was the first by a cabinet member since the United States publicly accused Beijing of genocide against the mostly Muslim Uyghur minority. Washington has also lashed out at China over human rights, and this visit was the first by Blinken.
Keeping one’s pals near at hand
During his twenty-hour flight across the Pacific, Blinken chatted on the phone with his colleagues from both Japan and South Korea. This was done as part of the Biden administration’s emphasis on maintaining tight relationships with allies.
Jake Sullivan, who serves as the national security advisor for the Biden administration, recently traveled to Tokyo to participate in separate three-way discussions including Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines.
In recent weeks, the United States has been successful in negotiating agreements for the deployment of troops in both the southern part of Japan and the northern part of the Philippines. Both of these locations are strategically near to Taiwan.
Before leaving, Blinken also had a meeting in Washington with his counterpart from the allied nation of Singapore. During that meeting, the Singaporean official expressed the hope that the United States would continue to be a force, but would also find ways to cohabit with a rising China.
Vivian Balakrishnan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated that Blinken’s trip was “essential, but not sufficient.”
“There are fundamental variations in perspectives and in the beliefs that people hold. Additionally, the development of mutual respect and strategic trust requires some period of time.
Blinken is the first top US diplomat to visit Beijing since his predecessor Mike Pompeo made the trip in 2018. Pompeo later advocated for an all-out war with China in the latter years of Donald Trump’s administration. Blinken is the first top US diplomat to visit Beijing since Pompeo.
The government of Joe Biden was more progressive than the administration of Donald Trump on many areas, most notably technology, but it maintained an openness to collaboration in certain other areas, such as climate.
According to the opinions of several experts, China sees more dependability in Biden than they do in Trump, who is running for president once again in 2019.
Danny Russel, who served as Barack Obama’s senior East Asia diplomat during the second term of his presidency, expressed his uncertainty that Blinken’s quick trip would be able to address core issues.
“However, it is possible that his visit will restart the face-to-face dialogue that has been sorely needed and send a signal that both countries are moving away from heated rhetoric delivered at the press podium and toward sober discussions conducted behind closed doors.”