Secretary of State Antony Blinken will head to China later this month, finally rescheduling the trip the Biden administration postponed after a Chinese spy balloon traversed the United States in February, according to the Associated Press.
Blinken expects to hold meetings in Beijing on June 18 with senior Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials, including Foreign Minister Qin Gang, U.S. officials told the AP. It’s also possible, but not yet confirmed, that he’ll meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“U.S. officials say Blinken expects to be in Beijing on June 18 for meetings with senior Chinese officials, including with Foreign Minister Qin Gang and possibly President Xi Jinping.”@AP https://t.co/XE43pnjHlX
— Nicholas Brown (@News_By_Nick) June 9, 2023
Blinken was originally slated to travel to China in February, after Xi and President Joe Biden agreed during a meeting last year in Bali that America’s top diplomat would make the trip. However, that trip was postponed in the final hours leading up to Blinken’s departure after a Chinese spy balloon was spotted flying across the continental United States in February.
The Biden administration made the decision to shoot down the spy balloon, but not until it had already crossed the whole country and was off the coast of the Carolinas in the Atlantic Ocean. Biden and the State Department called the incident a serious violation of American sovereignty, while China first denied it was a spy apparatus at all before accusing the U.S. of blowing the issue out of proportion.
Since then, Beijing has rejected a number of overtures from the Biden administration, despite the latter’s apparent wish to improve relations. China rejected an offer to meet with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and just this week turned down nuclear proliferation talks with Washington.
Biden said in recent weeks that he was bothered that the “silly” spy balloon incident caused already-tense relations with China to spiral further downward. He mentioned that he expected the relationship to “thaw very shortly,” perhaps a veiled reference to the plans for Blinken to make his Beijing visit. (RELATED: Chinese Warship Aggressively Maneuvered Into Path Of American Destroyer)
Blinken’s top deputy for China, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink, traveled to China earlier this week on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.