Later this week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken will finally make his long-awaited trip to China following the spy balloon incident.
On June 16-21, Blinken will visit Beijing and London, where he will meet with “senior PRC officials,” according to a statement released by the State Department on Wednesday.
According to a statement, he will discuss the importance of keeping communication lines open to manage the U.S.-PRC relationship responsibly.
The statement also said he would confront bilateral topics of concern- regional and global- and hopefully cooperate on shared transnational issues.
The planned trip to Beijing in February was canceled when a Chinese spy balloon crossed the United States mainland before being shot down by the United States military in the Atlantic Ocean. While heading east, the balloon passed above key military facilities, despite Beijing’s denials that it might conduct surveillance.
After this event, Chinese military leaders have been avoiding communication with their American counterparts, even though the People’s Liberation Army has conducted aggressive military maneuvers in the region regularly for over a year.
According to Ely Ratner, assistant secretary of defense for the Indo-Pacific, a sharp rise in the region of aerial intercepts has been seen over the last 18 months, becoming a “major problem.”
Since Blinken called off the trip, the Chinese navy has also maneuvered a ship directly in front of two American and Canadian ships in the Taiwan Strait, and a Chinese plane has made an aggressive maneuver near a U.S. Air Force plane.
At the Shangri-La conference in Singapore earlier this month, Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin briefly met with Minister of National Defence Li Shangfu, but their chat lacked depth, and the Chinese declined a request for a more official meeting.
This week, the government officially confirmed that China has an improved espionage base in Cuba.