The issues on the table will not be very different. Two months after Joe Biden and Xi Jinping sat down face to face in Indonesia, the war in Ukraine and the tense situation in Taiwan will once again occupy a large part of the talks. Now, however, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will also address the issue of China's nuclear arsenal, as well as the issue of Americans detained on Chinese soil.
Blinken is due to travel to Beijing on 5 and 6 February to meet China's Foreign Minister Qin Gang. This is a follow-up to the meeting between President Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in November last year on the eve of the G20 summit. At that time, Washington promised to "maintain open lines of communication" with China. Hence, this trip is an important test of whether the smoothing of relations between the White House and Beijing that was talked about two months ago is a reality.
The meeting, which will take place in three weeks' time, was announced by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin. At the press conference he confirmed Blinken's visit and expressed his country's willingness to develop its relations with the United States in accordance with the three principles of "mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation". He added that he expects a conciliatory willingness on the part of the Secretary of State to "adhere to dialogue rather than confrontation" and to seek progress in what he hopes will be fruitful talks for both countries.
Wenbin expressed his country's willingness without ignoring the tense situation in the world order. The rise of China is changing a landscape in which the United States must get moving to regain lost ground. Nevertheless, this visit by Antony Blinken is a positive gesture in terms of deepening US-Chinese ties. It should not be forgotten that November's visit was the first meeting between the US president and his Chinese counterpart since the Biden Administration came to the White House two years ago, so the process of rapprochement, far from being agile, has not been easy for either side.
The Ministry's spokesman also referred to this meeting, saying that "it is hoped that the United States can work with China to fully implement the important common understandings reached between the two heads of state, and return China-US relations to the path of solid and stable growth". Such growth could be boosted at the same time in Zurich, where US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will meet on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.
The US Treasury Department issued a statement distributed by the Bloomberg agency announcing that the representatives "will exchange views on macroeconomic developments and other economic issues". Yellen has organised a tour of several African countries - Senegal, Zambia and South Africa - scheduled for 17-28 January, but that will undergo changes after the announcement of her meeting with the Chinese representative. Liu He will remain in Switzerland for the WEF, which concludes tomorrow, Thursday 19 January.
Americas Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra.