The US Secretary of State arrives in Beijing with little hope of success and amid high tensions over Taiwan

Blinken and the desperate attempt to defuse tensions between China and the US

PHOTO/TWITTER/@Kanthan2030 – El secretario de Estados de Estados Unidos, Antony Bllinken, se reúne con el canciller chino Qing Gang
PHOTO/TWITTER/@Kanthan2030 - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Bllinken meets with Chinese Foreign Minister Qing Gang

It was the most difficult visit on the White House's millimetric agenda. It was scheduled for February, but the interception of a Chinese spy balloon in US airspace led to the US Secretary of State's visit to China being postponed in extremis. Now that the geopolitical thermometer has been lowered, Antony Blinken is finally landing in Beijing.  

"Blinken is in the People's Republic of China. Our relationship with China is one of the most complex and consequential. It is important that we maintain communication between our two countries," says Department spokesman Matthew Miller. A summary of the careful bias Bliken must have in every word he utters.   

Tensions between Washington and Beijing merit the now-designated new Cold War, and the latest big temperature shot is being written today in Beijing. The first visit by a US State Department official in five years, when Republican Mike Pompeo, on behalf of the Trump administration, ended up stalling the icy relations between the two leading economic powers.

"What we're working on is really taking forward what President Biden and President Xi agreed to in Bali at the end of last year, which was to establish regular and sustained lines of communication at high levels of our governments precisely to make sure that we communicate as well as possible to avoid, as much as possible, misunderstandings and miscommunications," Blinken himself said before his departure. The attempt is honourable, but not much hope is pinned on him during the 48 hours he plans to be in Beijing. Officials from both governments have pointed to low expectations for the visit.  

In any case, the Secretary of State's projection remains along the lines of addressing "issues of bilateral concern, global and regional issues, and potential cooperation on shared transnational challenges". This was expressed in a meeting already held with his Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang, the latest appointment of Xi Jinping's regime, who was intended to be the necessary link for the recovery of relations with Washington. His time as ambassador in Washington attests to this.   

Taiwan, the new Berlin Wall 

The island is the main focus of tension between Beijing and Washington, and Xi Jinping's regime is playing with these invasion attempts. In August 2022, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, visited Taiwan in a tentative act even for the White House itself. The Chinese response was immediate. In the weeks following the visit, large-scale military manoeuvres by the People's Liberation Army took over the sea surrounding the island. Exactly the same move was repeated after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen's visit to the United States in April.  

PHOTO/ARCHIVO - La presidenta de la Cámara de Representantes de Estados Unidos, Nancy Pelosi, en una visita a Taiwán
PHOTO/ARCHIVO -Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi on a visit to Taiwan

Taiwan is not the only political actor in the multifaceted China Sea hotspot. Prior to Blinken's visit, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan made sure to travel separately to Tokyo to hold a dialogue with delegates from Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, the countries threatened by Beijing and its partners seeking to maintain their security under the Pentagon's umbrella.  

They are not off track in their efforts. The United States recently reached agreements to strategically deploy its troops in southern Japan and the northern Philippines. And to make the necessary preparations, Blinken himself spoke by telephone with his counterparts in Seoul and Tokyo before landing in Beijing.  

Next step: the Biden-Xi meeting  

Looking ahead to Blinken's cool and distant visit to China, Joe Biden said on Saturday that he hopes to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in the coming months. The last meeting between the leaders of the two world powers took place during the G20 summit in Bali. An extensive and formal meeting that led, this time, to a thaw between China and the United States.