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Blinken talks to Chinese counterpart before planned visit

June 14, 2023

The top US diplomat is expected to travel to Beijing after a previously planned trip was abruptly canceled. China's foreign minister said "new difficulties" affected their relations since the beginning of the year.

Antony Blinken and Qin Gang
The highest-level talks in recent times between the two countries comes as Blinken is scheduled to visit China on SundayImage: Vesa Moilanen/Lehtikuva//Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang talked over the telephone on Wednesday, amid heightened tensions between the two countries.

The talks come as Blinken is scheduled to visit China on Sunday, according to US officials, in an effort to ease tensions and shore relations.

A previously planned visit to Beijing in February was abruptly canceled after a suspected  Chinese surveillance balloon flew over the US.

The focal point of the latest tensions has been the issue of Taiwan, with Beijing asserting its claim over the self-governing island and not ruling out the possibility of using force to seize control.

What did the two diplomats say?

During the phone call between Blinken and Qin, the Chinese foreign minister warned that the relationship between the two countries has faced "new difficulties and challenges" since the beginning of the year.

"It's clear who is responsible," Qin said, according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry readout of the phone call, urging the US to "stop interfering in China's internal affairs."

"China has always viewed and managed China-US relations in accordance with the principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation put forward by President Xi Jinping," he said.

Blinken, on the other hand, highlighted the importance of maintaining open lines of communication to prevent miscalculation and conflict, according to State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.

Tense diplomatic ties

The planned visit by Blinken to Beijing is the first trip by a top US diplomat to China since 2018.

In November, Presidents Joe Biden and Xi met in Bali and agreed to work toward preventing the already heightened tensions from spiraling out of control.

Last week, assistant US Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink became the highest-ranking US official to visit China since the balloon incident.

ss/fb (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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