The reports come as the chief of U.S. naval operations said he is ‘encouraged’ by a change in tone in ties.
By Alex Willemyns for RFA
June 7, 2023
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken waits behind closed doors during G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting at The Prince Karuizawa hotel in Japan, April 17, 2023. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Beijing “in the coming weeks,” according to media reports, but a spokesman for the State Department said that he could not confirm travel plans.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Beijing “in the coming weeks,” according to media reports, but a spokesman for the State Department said that he could not confirm the travel plans.
Blinken on Feb. 4 canceled a scheduled two-day trip to Beijing just hours before he was set to depart Washington after officials said a Chinese spy balloon was found floating over the United States.
State Department officials have since insisted a new trip would take place “when conditions allow,” but refused to provide a timetable.
“The exact timing for Blinken’s visit is still fluid,” the Bloomberg report said, citing unnamed officials familiar with the matter.
But State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters on Tuesday that he could not confirm the media reports.
“We have no travel for the secretary to announce,” he said, repeating that the trip “will be rescheduled when conditions allow.”
Reports of the trip come days after a visit to Beijing by Daniel Kritenbrink, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, and Sarah Beran, senior director for China and Taiwan affairs on the National Security Council, for their own high-level talks.
The State Department said only that it was “to maintain open lines of communication” and Kritenbrink replied “we’ll see” to reporters in Beijing when asked about any trip by Blinken, Reuters said.
Ties between the world’s two major powers have been tense since August, when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan to the protests of Beijing, which regards the democratic island as a renegade province and has vowed to reunite it with the mainland.
Blinken’s canceled trip to Beijing in February was meant to usher in a detente, but that was nixed by the alleged Chinese spy balloon. An unofficial trip by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen to New York and Los Angeles in March then further inflamed ties.
Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recover a high-altitude surveillance balloon off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in the Atlantic Ocean on Feb. 5, 2023. Blinken on Feb. 4 canceled a scheduled two-day trip to Beijing just hours before he was set to depart Washington after officials said a Chinese spy balloon was found floating over the United States. (Petty Officer 1st Class Tyler Thompson/US NAVY via AFP)
There has also been an uptick in near-miss accidents between the two countries’ militaries in the past two weeks in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait, with the Pentagon accusing China’s navy and air force of dangerous maneuvering in front of American vessels.
On Wednesday, Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of U.S. naval operations who last year provocatively said a Chinese invasion of Taiwan this year could not be ruled out, said that he now saw ties with China improving, despite the near-miss accidents in the past few weeks.
“I am encouraged by the most recent turn and dialogue by senior leaders with respect to toning down the, I would say, militaristic tone,” Gilday said at the Brookings Institution. “That's been helpful.”
U.S. President Joe Biden also said last month he expects relations with China to “begin to thaw very shortly” amid bilateral talks.