Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Beijing on Sunday, becoming the most-senior US official to visit China in five years as America looks to ease tensions that have provoked fears of open conflict between the world’s two biggest economies.

Blinken will stay in Beijing until Monday, and it is the first time he will visit China as secretary of state. US officials sought to lower expectations about a major breakthrough, calling the trip a chance to resume communication that had been disrupted by months of tension.

In a phone call to Blinken yesterday, foreign minister Qin Gang urged the United States to stop meddling in China’s affairs and harming its security. Qin told Blinken to respect China’s core concerns, such as the Taiwan issue, in an effort to arrest declining relations between the two, the foreign ministry said. Blinken stressed the need for communication “to avoid miscalculation and conflict” and said the US would continue to raise areas of concern as well as potential cooperation with China, the State Department said.

If Blinken’s trip goes ahead, it will be the first visit to China by Washington’s top diplomat in five years and the highest-profile visit by US President Joe Biden’s administration, which has clashed with Beijing over issues ranging from spy allegations to a semiconductor tussle. The ministry has yet to confirm Blinken’s trip, but a US official last week said Blinken would be in Beijing on Sunday. Blinken cancelled a planned trip to Beijing in February over a suspected Chinese spy balloon that flew over the US. Visits by US officials to Taiwan have also magnified tensions between the two largest economies.

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