Blinken travels to China, expected to be difficult

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will arrive in China on Wednesday to try to maintain stability in the recent delicate U.S.-China relationship, as tensions over trade, territorial disputes and national security threaten to derail relations again. .

Even as Mr. Blinken’s plane approached Shanghai, the challenges ahead were clear. He was scheduled to land just hours after the U.S. Senate passed a bill that would provide $8 billion to Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific region and potentially lead to an entry ban across China. President Biden is expected to sign it quickly. Owned app TikTok.

The US political season is also approaching with a complicated situation. As the presidential election approaches, Democrats and Republicans are competing to appear tougher on China. And if former President Donald Trump is re-elected, he could reverse efforts by China and the United States to stabilize relations.

During Mr. Blinken’s three-day visit, which also included a visit to Beijing, he spoke to Chinese officials about aid to Russia, cheap Chinese exports that U.S. officials say threaten U.S. jobs, and Chinese exports that U.S. officials say threaten U.S. jobs. They plan to apply pressure on a wide range of issues, including: A senior State Department official told reporters on a conference call about the ship’s aggressive maneuvers in the South China Sea.

Chinese officials are likely to bring up U.S. support for Taiwan, an autonomous island claimed by China, and trade restrictions that Beijing says are discriminatory.

Blinken is scheduled to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. It is unclear whether he will meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, as he did during his previous trip in June.

This is the first visit by a US Secretary of State to China since 2018, and it comes at perhaps the worst moment in US-China relations in recent years. High-level military communications were cut off, and neighboring countries feared the two countries would go to war.

Since then, the relationship has somewhat thawed. China’s economy is slowing and the Chinese government is adopting a softer diplomatic stance to attract more foreign investment. The U.S. government continues to warn that China poses a global security threat, but says it wants to keep communications open.

In November, Biden and Xi met for four hours near San Francisco. China subsequently agreed to resume cooperation with the United States in the fight against global fentanyl production, and the two countries affirmed the importance of restoring cultural exchanges. The two leaders also spoke by phone this month.

Last week, national defense officials We held a video conference, which was our first real engagement. From the second half of 2022.

But new sources of tension are rising. Western officials are increasingly concerned that China is aiding Russia in the war in Ukraine. When Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen visited China earlier this month, she warned of “serious consequences” if Beijing provided material support. This is not the case, she argues, even as China deepens its ties with Moscow. Mr. Xi hosted Russia’s foreign minister this month, and Russian President Vladimir V. Putin is also scheduled to visit China soon.

U.S. officials also said China is dumping cheap electric cars and solar panels on overseas markets, hurting U.S. companies. China rejects the accusations as protectionist.

Aggressive behavior by Chinese vessels in waters disputed by the Philippines and Japan has also raised concerns about a potential conflict that could involve the United States, a treaty ally of both countries.

As for Taiwan, perhaps the most sensitive issue in U.S.-China relations, next month a new president, Lai Ching-de, who Beijing has denounced as a champion of Taiwan’s independence, is scheduled to take office.

According to the newspaper, China’s Eastern Military Defense Minister said in a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin that China “will not make any compromises” with Taiwan. Chinese reading.

Anti-China rhetoric is likely to intensify in the United States as Democrats and Republicans vie to outdo each other in one of the few areas where there is bipartisan agreement. Last week, Biden campaigned in Pennsylvania, a major steel industry hub, and called for higher tariffs on steel imports from China.

“We had high expectations after the San Francisco summit, but recent developments have put great stress on relations,” said Xie Tao, dean of the School of International Relations and Diplomacy at Beijing Foreign Studies University. “When you add up all these negative developments, you get a pretty depressing picture of the current U.S.-China relationship.”

Both countries have reasons to try to prevent tensions from escalating. The United States has urged China to restrain Iran, with which it has good relations, from escalating its rivalry with Israel into a full-scale war. And China is keen to prevent further tariffs from the United States, as strong exports are helping balance the housing crisis and weak consumer spending.

However, with public opinion on both sides hardening, there may be little room for diplomatic maneuvering on either side.

“There are already so many irritants and mistrust issues within the relationship,” said Allen Carlson, a professor of international relations at Cornell University.

“If you have a pot that’s already close to boiling, just adding a degree or two to the temperature can bring it above boiling.”

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