Mon. Sep 25th, 2023

Prof. ST Hsieh

Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum


[email protected]

June 7, 2023

The open disputes in reference to Secretary Blinken’s “imminent” visit to Beijing, as illustrated by reports from Chinese media and US media respectively are useful lessons for both the US and China. Basically, it tells the story that “strategic ambiguity” does not work anymore. Not only “strategic clarity” is the way to move forward, but also let us be serious: foreign relations should be managed by the governments. Media should not send out unconfirmed events or actions in advance.

US and China are two very different countries with different cultures as well as government structures. Now that the US has recognized that she is competing with China as two largest economies in the world, US alone is not going to set all the rules or engagements or agenda. It is more G2 now than ever. In the sense that there should be less unilateral actions but more disciplined consultations before any significant action is announced to the public. It is a simple matter of courtesy; diplomatic protocols should be followed to the letter.

For example, if Secretary Blinken informed the Chinese properly that he would cancel his pre-arranged trip to Beijing in February before he made his decision public, the current disputes probably would not happen at all. As another case, the US Defense Secretary Austin openly requested meetings with his Chinese counterparts, should some homework be done first? The Chinese defense Minister has been on the US sanction list for years. Then President Biden said that the US is evaluating the case. But the US State Department immediately said that the US was not even considering the case…

Of course, China should NOT be setting up all the rules of engagements with the US. But China will not yield on her core interests as much as the US will! Some respect to each other go long ways!

Whether Blinken comes or not, the US has lessons to make up for: Global Times editorial

By Global TimesPublished: Jun 07, 2023 11:31 PM

After Bloomberg broke the news in the US, several media outlets, including CNN and Reuters, also claimed that the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit China in the coming weeks based on anonymous leaks from US officials. This does not rule out the possibility that the US State Department is playing usual tricks of manipulating public opinion by leaking information to the media. In response, the spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on Wednesday “I have nothing to share on that,” neither confirming nor denying the news. However, one can sense the difference in attitudes between China and the US regarding Blinken’s visit to China.

The attitudes of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chinese netizens were not like this back in January. At that time, the spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that China welcomed Secretary Blinken’s visit and hoped that the US will pursue dialogue and win-win cooperation, not confrontation and zero-sum competition. However, in February, the US side overreacted to the “unmanned airship incident” and unilaterally postponed Blinken’s visit to China.

Not long after, the US side once again showed interest and enthusiasm in restoring high-level communication with China. In this situation, Blinken’s visit to China has deviated from its original purpose of communication. Before seeing sincerity from the US side, the general sentiment in Chinese society is that it’s necessary to temporarily keep the Americans at arm’s length.

Regardless of the circumstances, Blinken’s visit to China is not a bad thing, and we certainly would not oppose it. However, it requires the US side to create a positive atmosphere and demonstrate sufficient sincerity and goodwill. In other words, if Blinken is indeed coming, it should not be turned into a “showy” visit where the form outweighs the substance.

China-US relations have been locked in a stalemate, in which many issues need to be resolved through strengthened communication between both sides. However, the agenda for discussions cannot be solely determined by the US side. The Chinese side has put forth four lists to the US side, i.e. the list of US wrongdoings that must stop, the list of key individual cases that the US must resolve, the list of Acts in the 117th Congress of high concern to China, and the list of cooperation proposals in eight areas. These all require the US side to take them seriously and provide an explanation to the Chinese side.

Many US media outlets claimed that the Taiwan question will be an important topic for Blinken’s visit to China. It must be emphasized to the US side that the Taiwan question is China’s internal affair and there is nothing to discuss with the US. However, the US side does need to explain to the Chinese side its bad policies and wrong actions in instigating “Taiwan independence.” China’s stance and red lines are clear, and its will and ability to maintain national unity and territorial integrity are unshakable.

Antony Blinken to visit China this month in sign of easing tensions

US secretary of state Antony Blinken will travel to China this month, in the latest sign that Beijing and Washington are beginning to stabilise a turbulent bilateral relationship that had sunk to the lowest point in decades. Blinken is expected to visit within the coming weeks, according to two people familiar with his plans.

The US diplomat’s visit would be a sign of renewed headway between Washington and Beijing to re-establish high-level engagement. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed at the G20 summit in Bali in November to try to set a “floor” under the relationship, but their efforts were derailed by the balloon episode. Speaking at the G7 summit in Hiroshima last month, Biden said he expected an imminent “thaw” in relations, raising expectations that the countries had moved past the balloon incident. The US is also trying to arrange a telephone call between Biden and Xi to create momentum after months of little progress. China had previously refused to agree to reschedule Blinken’s visit, partly out of displeasure that he had cancelled it in February, as well as out of concerns that Washington could embarrass Beijing by releasing the results of an FBI investigation into the balloon incident while he was in China.

The state department did not confirm Blinken’s imminent travel to China, saying his visit would be rescheduled “when conditions allow”. China’s foreign ministry also declined to comment on the trip. The news of the trip was first reported by Bloomberg. Additional reporting by Maiqi Ding in Beijing


US Secretary of State Blinken set to travel to Beijing for talks in coming weeks


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to visit China in the coming weeks for talks with top officials, possibly including President Xi Jinping, people familiar with the matter said, as the U.S. looks to resume high-level communication despite continued tensions.

A State Department spokesman said the agency had no travel to announce and that Blinken’s previously scrapped visit would take place when conditions allow.

On Monday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby warned of a “growing aggressiveness” by China after interceptions of a U.S. ship and surveillance aircraft in recent weeks. “It won’t be long before somebody gets hurt,” Kirby said. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin shot back with criticism that the U.S. is “sending warships halfway around the world to China’s doorstep in a provocative way.”

At the same time, Kirby said the two sides were making progress in opening other channels towards setting up visits for U.S. Cabinet secretaries.


China dismisses rumors of a Blinken visit, calling for US sincerity rather than saying one thing but doing another

By GT staff reporters Published: Jun 07, 2023 10:49 PM Updated: Jun 07, 2023 10:43 PM

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday dismissed rumors of a potential visit to China by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the near future, saying they have nothing to share on that, after a number of US media outlets have hyped an alleged official visit by Blinken to China in the upcoming weeks. 
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin also noted on Wednesday that China and the US maintain necessary communication. 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, and stop calling for communication on the one hand and making provocations on the other. The US needs to work with China in the same direction and bring the bilateral relations back on the track of healthy and stable development.

The US is trying to test China’s reaction to Blinken’s potential visit through media hype and is trying to shape its own image as a promoter for communication, experts told the Global Times on Wednesday.

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