The United States’ highest-ranking diplomat will visit China just months after a Chinese spy balloon invaded U.S. territorial airspace, according to two reports.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s alleged visit to communist China comes after months of pleas by the Biden administration for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to reestablish normal communications.
Blinken was originally scheduled to travel to Beijing earlier in the year, but the appearance of a Chinese spy balloon over U.S. territory and subsequent public outrage caused the Biden administration to cancel the trip.
The balloon was allowed to travel across the entire continental United States, including over three sites associated with the U.S. nuclear arsenal, before being shot down over the Atlantic Ocean.
The State Department has not confirmed Blinken’s travel at this time, though reports by both Reuters and Bloomberg say that unnamed officials have confirmed the effort.
When asked about the matter by The Epoch Times, a State Department official pointed to comments made by the department’s deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel on June 6.
“We have no travel for the Secretary to announce. As we’ve said previously, the visit to the People’s Republic of China will be rescheduled when conditions allow,” Patel said.
President Joe Biden’s administration has pushed to boost engagement with China as ties between the two powers continue to deteriorate over numerous issues, including Taiwan’s continued de facto independence, Chinese military aggression in the South China Sea, and the CCP’s continued campaign of transnational repression and systemic theft of intellectual property.
Critics question the administration’s overtures to China, arguing that decades of engagement have failed to change Beijing’s behavior for the better while undermining U.S. national security. To that end, Blinken’s trip may be panned as a kowtow by those unsympathetic to the administration’s efforts.
The CCP has severed many lines of communication with the United States, including military-to-military communications.
There have been some points of contact, however.
The State Department’s top official for East Asia, Daniel Kritenbrink, visited Beijing this week for talks with Chinese counterparts. Similarly, CIA Director William Burns recently visited China as well.
Asked by reporters in Beijing if Blinken would visit soon, Kritenbrink said, “We’ll see,” and that the United States was “working hard” to manage the relationship.
Kritenbrink’s arrival on June 4 coincided with the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, in which CCP troops killed hundreds to thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators led by student protesters.
The Biden administration dismissed any significance behind the date of his arrival. Still, Republican lawmakers and Tiananmen survivors criticized the timing, arguing U.S. eagerness to hold talks with Chinese officials was watering down U.S. positions.
Relatedly, Reuters previously reported that the State Department delayed human rights-related sanctions, export controls, and other sensitive actions to try to limit damage to the U.S.-China relationship after the balloon incursion.
Reuters contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times