US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is set to visit China from June 18 to June 19, where he is set to talk with senior Communist Party officials. The US self-reported aims are to foster open lines of communication to help avoid military escalation, as well as discuss unspecified issues of regional and global importance.
The meeting marks a key moment in US-China relations under US President Joe Biden. Not only is it Blinken’s first official visit to China, but it is also the first secretary of State visit to China in five years, and the first Cabinet-level position in four years.
Blinken’s visit will likely achieve its aim of opening a dialogue with Beijing after months of open hostility. However, it will likely do little to heal US-China relations in the short term, as the visit is short and does nothing to concretely address China’s issues with the US and vice-versa.
Nevertheless, it does set the stage for a broader and more nuanced conversation between the two countries in the medium term. This is because the visit itself should be taken in the context of each country’s domestic goals and challenges.
Chinese President Xi Jinping secured a third term only in March, maybe pursuing a foreign policy to distract away from domestic difficulties.
US President Joe Biden is up for reelection next year, and measures to limit Chinese influence in East Asia and the US are popular with both the Democratic and Republican parties.
Both countries have incentives to play up their mutual hostility while also avoiding armed conflict, and Blinken’s meeting will allow both sides to know where each other’s red lines are.