US Secretary of State Blinken reschedules postponed Beijing visit for June 18

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to China next week, rescheduling a visit that was canceled in February after a saga over a suspected surveillance balloon, US officials said Friday.

Blinken is expected to arrive in Beijing on June 18, the first trip by a top US diplomat to China since his predecessor Mike Pompeo in October 2018, US officials said on condition of anonymity.

The State Department has not officially announced his travel. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby recently said the United States would announce travel by senior officials “in the near future” without giving details.

Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping met in Bali in November and agreed to try to stop high tensions from soaring out of control, including by sending Blinken to Beijing.

Blinken abruptly canceled a trip scheduled in early February after the United States said it detected — and later shot down — a Chinese surveillance balloon flying over the US mainland, drawing fury from US lawmakers and denials by Beijing.

But the two sides have more recently looked again to keep tensions in check including with an extensive, closed-door meeting between Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan and top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi in Vienna last month.

Tensions have risen sharply between the world’s two largest economies in recent years, especially over Taiwan, the self-governing democracy that Beijing claims and has not ruled out seizing by force.

The two countries are also at odds over China’s increasingly assertive posture in the region and over trade and human rights.

Biden, however, has looked to limited areas for cooperation with China, such as climate change, in contrast with the more fully adversarial position adopted at the end of the administration of his predecessor Donald Trump.

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