Blinken to travel to Beijing this week in bid to ease bilateral tensions

Washington, Jun 14 (EFE).- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel this week to Beijing, where he will meet with senior Chinese government officials to discuss the importance of maintaining open communication between the two countries and managing their bilateral relationship “responsibly”.

Blinken will also go to the United Kingdom on the trip that will take place from June 16 to 21, the State Department confirmed Wednesday in a statement.

During his stay in Beijing, the country’s top diplomat will meet with senior officials, with whom he will also discuss “bilateral issues of concern, global and regional matters, and potential cooperation on shared transnational challenges,” the statement said.

In London, Blinken will attend the Ukraine Recovery Conference to help mobilize international public and private sector support to assist Ukraine in its recovery.

While there, the State Department announced, he will also meet with counterparts from the United Kingdom, Ukraine and other partners and allies.

The confirmation of the trip to China comes after Blinken spoke on the telephone last night with his Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang, in which he urged the importance of “maintaining open lines of communication (…) to avoid miscalculation and conflict,” his office said.

In addition, Blinken assured that his country will continue to use diplomatic channels to address issues of concern, as well as to delve into possible areas of cooperation with Beijing.

Qin asked Blinken to stop Washington from interfering in China’s internal affairs, Chinese state media reported Wednesday.

The foreign minister demanded that the US cease its efforts to harm China’s sovereign security and development interests “in the name of rivalry”, according to the official newspaper Global Times.

Among China’s concerns, the minister mentioned the Taiwanese issue and called for the US to “take practical steps to implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state in Bali” in November in Indonesia during the G20 summit.

Relations between the two powers have been strained since February when Washington detected and shot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon flying over its territory, which China claimed was a weather balloon that had veered off course. The event prompted Blinken to cancel an expected trip to Beijing at the last minute.

Since then, officials in Joe Biden’s administration have indicated that they would like to see an expansion of communication channels between the two countries.

At a press conference in late April, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Biden hopes to hold a call with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping “soon”.

The leaders have not held a bilateral conversation since their meeting at the G20 summit in Indonesia. EFE


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