Blinken returns to pressure China, seek stability

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has returned to China – his second visit in a year – as the United States ramps up pressure over the mainland’s support for Russia as it seeks to ease tensions with Beijing.

Blinken will meet China’s top brass today in Beijing, where he is expected to plead for restraint as Taiwan inaugurates a new leader and to raise US concerns on Chinese trade practices as America’s election nears.

But Blinken is also seeking to stabilize ties since his last visit in June.

At the time Blinken was the highest US official to visit China in five years, and the trip was followed by a meeting between the countries’ presidents in November.

At that summit in California, President Xi Jinping agreed to a US wish list including restoring contact between militaries and cracking down on precursor chemicals to fentanyl.

Blinken arrived yesterday in Shanghai, where he will kick off his visit by attending a Chinese basketball play-off match.

This would have been unthinkable until recently, with hawks on both sides previously speaking of a new Cold War. A senior US official previewing Blinken’s trip said the relationship between the two a year ago was at “a historic low point.”

The Biden administration’s eagerness to engage China stands in contrast to isolating Russia since its Ukraine invasion in 2022.

Washington has encouraged European leaders to stand firm on China not backing Russia.

The Biden administration has trumpeted the agreement with Xi on fentanyl as a success as China appears to have taken its first law enforcement measures on the matter since and that Blinken would be asking for further implementation.

The US Congress gave final approval on Tuesday to a US$95 billion (HK$744 billion) assistance to allies including Taiwan. China said that would only increase “risk of conflict” and warned it would take measures to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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