Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
June 14, 2023
It is good news that Secretary Blinken will visit Beijing on June 18-19, both the US and Chinese governments have officially confirmed. The US-China relation does need constant “tender loving care,” otherwise unmanageable crisis could happen anytime. Since the US and China are the two largest economies and to military powers, if the US and China ever get into a major conflict, the global economy will tank. So, every nation has a stake at supporting positive US-China engagements.
It is a modern and complex world now, both the US and China face significant challenges at home and aboard, as every other nation. The west has crystalized their relationship with China in three simple words: competition, cooperation, and confrontation. Of course, every nation in the west camp has a different orientation vs China. The US recently has settled to the priorities as Competition first, Cooperation is desirable and Confrontation should be avoided at all cost.
The Trump administration adopted a hawkish position against China and other powers: Confrontation first and Cooperation as the last resort. President Biden has softened the rhetoric somewhat but essentially maintained a hawkish action agenda against China. The US Congress has been strongly vocal against China and Biden cannot ignore. Further, Biden will run for re-election in 2024 so Biden really does not have a free hand to deal with China.
The State Department has pre-empted us with a public announcement that we should not expect any deliverables and breakthroughs for Blinken’s trip to Beijing. This trip to Beijing will be a true test of Blinken’s capacity as a career diplomat. Blinken would be a winner if he has a chance to meet with President Xi during this trip.
However, ultimately it is also a major test of Biden’s China policy, and it will impact on Biden’s chance of being re-elected in 2024.
China rebukes US in phone call ahead of Blinken’s Beijing trip
Tue, June 13, 2023 at 9:45 PM PDT
(Reuters) -China’s foreign minister Qin Gang urged the United States to stop meddling in its affairs and harming its security in a phone call with his U.S. counterpart on Wednesday, a tense preview to Antony Blinken’s visit to Beijing expected in coming days.
Qin told Blinken to respect China’s core concerns, such as the Taiwan issue, in an effort to arrest declining relations between the superpowers, according to China’s foreign ministry.
Blinken stressed the need for communication “to avoid miscalculation and conflict” and said the U.S. would continue to raise areas of concern as well as potential cooperation with China, the State Department said in a brief summary of the call.
While there, Blinken will meet senior Chinese officials to “raise bilateral issues of concern” as well as other global and regional matters and “shared transnational challenges”, the State Department said in a statement.
“Since the beginning of the year, Sino-U.S. relations have encountered new difficulties and challenges, and the responsibility is clear,” Qin told Blinken, according to the Chinese foreign ministry’s readout.
The United States should “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, and stop harming China’s sovereignty, security and development interests in the name of competition,” Qin added.
Blinken to visit China this week
Wed, June 14, 2023 at 5:40 AM PDT
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to China to meet with Beijing’s senior officials this week, the State Department announced Wednesday.
During the trip, he’ll discuss the “importance of maintaining open lines of communication to responsibly manage” the relationship between the two countries, the statement said, which have become increasingly fraught in recent months.
Blinken, who will leave on Friday and return Wednesday, will become the first secretary of State to visit China in five years and the first Cabinet-level official to do so in four years.
“We’re coming to Beijing with a realistic, confident approach and a sincere desire to manage our competition the most responsible way possible. We do hope at a minimum that we will achieve that goal, and we also do hope of course to make progress on a number of concrete issues,” Daniel Kritenbrink, assistant secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told reporters Wednesday morning. “It would be wise not to have expectations of a long list of deliverables because that’s not where we are, I think, in the bilateral relationship.”
US plays down chance of breakthrough from Blinken China visit after tense call
Humeyra Pamuk, David Brunnstrom and Simon Lewis
Wed, June 14, 2023 at 5:55 AM PDT
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States on Wednesday played down expectations of any breakthrough from the first trip by a U.S. Secretary of State to China in five years, after a tense call with China’s foreign minister ahead Antony Blinken’s visit to Beijing next week.
U.S. officials said Blinken would push to establish open communication channels to ensure competition with the Chinese does not spiral into conflict.
“We’re not going to Beijing with the intent of having some sort of breakthrough or transformation in the way that we deal with one another,” Daniel Kritenbrink, the State Department’s top diplomat for East Asia, told reporters in a briefing call.
“We’re coming to Beijing with a realistic, confident approach and a sincere desire to manage our competition in the most responsible way possible,” he said.
Kritenbrink said he expected Blinken would “reiterate America’s abiding interest in the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait” and also discuss the situation in Ukraine.
The two sides are also at odds over trade, U.S. efforts to hold back China’s semiconductor industry and human rights issues.
A primary objective for Blinken will be “candid, direct and constructive” discussions with China, Kritenbrink said, but he cautioned about the prospect of progress.
“There will be a substantive and productive agenda that we’ll have before us, but, again, the objective is to focus on those top line goals, not necessarily to produce a long list of deliverables,” he said.
White House Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell said in the same call that Washington has an interest in setting up crisis communication mechanisms to reduce conflict risk.
“I believe Secretary Blinken will advocate strongly that these lines of communication are necessary. They are how mature, strong militaries interact and the stakes are just too high to avoid these critical lines of communication,” he said.
U.S. officials expect Blinken’s visit will pave the way for more bilateral meetings, including possible trips by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, in the coming months.
In three-and-a-half hours of talks, they covered topics including Taiwan and nuclear-armed North Korea, but the meeting ultimately failed to ease tensions.
China says US eagerness to engage is an ‘illusion’
Mon, June 12, 2023 at 9:53 PM PDT
BEIJING (Reuters) -A Chinese state-affiliated social media commentator accused the United States on Tuesday of playing tricks and creating an “illusion” that it is eager to engage, days before an expected visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The lead up to the high-stakes visit has been marred by new U.S. accusations of Chinese spying and scathing Chinese questioning of Washington’s sincerity in improving badly frayed ties.
“Every time they say they want to meet, the United States plays a role and creates the false illusion that it is eager to communicate while at the same time repeatedly testing and provoking China’s fundamental principles,” Yuyuan Tantian, a social media user affiliated with state broadcaster CCTV, wrote in an article.
On Monday, the U.S. added 43 entities – including 31 from China – to an export control list for training Chinese military pilots and other activities that threaten U.S. national security.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the United States was abusing its power by repeatedly citing national security, to a point of “hysteria”.