China’s foreign ministry on Wednesday declined to share any information on reports of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken planning to travel to China in the coming weeks.
A US official, on condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday that Washington’s top diplomat was planning to visit China, with multiple US news media reporting the same. While the official did not elaborate on timing, a Financial Times report said Blinken’s visit was scheduled within this month.
“I have nothing to share on that,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, responding to the reports at a regular press briefing.
Blinken’s trip to China is intended by Washington to be a major step toward what President Joe Biden has called a “thaw” in relations between the world’s two largest economies.
Also pressing on their ties are issues including military activity in the South China Sea, Beijing’s human rights record and democratically governed Taiwan – which China claims as its own territory.
US ‘working hard’ to manage China
The State Department’s top official for East Asia, Daniel Kritenbrink, was in Beijing this week for talks with Chinese counterparts, a visit seen as a step toward a possible Blinken trip.
The two sides had “candid, constructive and fruitful” talks, and agreed to maintain communication lines, US and Chinese officials said.
Asked by reporters in Beijing if Blinken would visit soon, Kritenbrink said: “We’ll see.” The United States was “working hard” to manage the relationship with China, he said.
Looming over the meeting was what US called an “unsafe interaction” between a Chinese warship and a US destroyer in the sensitive Taiwan Strait. The US military said the Chinese ship cut in front of the US vessel, coming within 150 yards.
US Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell said the incident showed the need for keeping lines of communication open “to prevent circumstances where unintended consequences can have terrible consequences.”
“China is increasingly a great power. Her (military) forces rub up against our’s much more than they did in the past. The potential for miscalculation, inadvertence, is real and growing,” Campbell said.
China says responsibility on US
The spokesperson for China’s embassy in Washington Liu Pengyu said China was “open to have dialogues with the US side.”
Beijing “hopes that the US will meet China halfway and jointly implement the important consensus reached by the two presidents at the Bali Summit,” Liu said, referring to the last meeting between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Indonesia in November.
Meanwhile, at the press briefing on Wednesday, foreign ministry spokesperson Wang said China and the US were maintaining “necessary communication” but also lashed out against Washington.
The US should “stop calling for communication on the one hand and making provocations on the other,” he said.
“The responsibility for the current challenges facing China-US relations does not lie with China. The US needs to respect China’s core interests and major concerns, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, stop harming China’s interests.”
- Vishakha Saxena, with Reuters