Blinken’s trip marks the first for a US secretary of state to visit China in five years.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to make a trip to China next week with the intention of improving relations after Beijing shut down a request for talks earlier by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin over Washington’s sanctions on the Chinese defense minister and continued provocations.
Blinken is set to land in China on June 18, Reuters reported on Saturday citing a US official who gave no further details about the travel plans.
China’s Minister of National Defense, Li Shangfu, declined an invitation to meet Austin on the sidelines of the Singapore summit held earlier this month, highlighting his government’s firm position against engaging in talks with the US amid the current situation. While a handshake occurred between the two officials during the conference, detailed discussions did not take place.
The strained relationship between Washington and China, characterized by a continuous US hostile attitude toward Beijing, especially regarding Taiwan and the American hyper-militarization of countries in the South China Sea, reached in the past few months its lowest point in decades, the newspaper reported earlier.
The US also formed an anti-China security pact with Australia and the UK – dubbed AUKUS – that aims to challenge the Asian giant in its neighborhood.
Last February, Blinken canceled plans to visit China over the balloons incident, which the White House alleged that Beijing was using them as “spy” apparatus.
His visit would mark the first of its kind for a sitting Secretary of State in five years.