Several media outlets have reported that Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to travel to China this month amid soaring tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Blinken abruptly canceled a planned trip to China in February over the Chinese balloon that wound up over US territory due to unexpected weather. After canceling the trip and the US shooting down the balloon off the coast of South Carolina, the Biden administration struggled to reschedule the visit.
But recently, high-level dialogue between the US and China has resumed, although not between military officials, as the US has refused to lift sanctions on Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu. China declined a meeting between Li and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the Shangri-La Dialogue that was held in Singapore from June 2-4 due to the US refusal.
CIA Director William Burns made a secret trip to China last month, making him the highest-level Biden administration official to visit the country. Daniel Kritenbrink, assistant US secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, was in China on Monday and, according to the Chinese side, held “candid, constructive and fruitful” discussions with his Chinese counterparts.
While the two sides are making an effort to hold talks, the Biden administration has shown no sign of backing down on its hardline China policies, which involve harsh economic sanctions, increasing support for Taiwan, and explicitly preparing for a future war with Beijing. Adm. John Aquilino, the head of US Indo-Pacific Command, said last month that he was ordered to be ready to fight and win a conflict with China.
“What I can tell you is the secretary, and the president have tasked me with two missions. The first is to prevent this conflict. And then the second one is if I fail at Mission One to be ready and prepared to fight and win… the United States military is manned, trained, equipped, postured and ready to execute both of those missions,” he said.