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Blinken in China to put pressure on Beijing while preserving stability

American Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected in China on Wednesday for his second visit in less than a year, with the mission of increasing pressure on Beijing concerning different files, such as its support for Russia, while seeking greater stability.

The head of American diplomacy will have talks with Chinese leaders in Beijing on Friday, during which he is expected to plead for restraint as Taiwan prepares to take over a new president.

He is also expected to raise US concerns about China's trade practices, which Washington considers anti-competitive, a key issue for President Joe Biden in this election year.

Antony Blinken is also in China to ease tensions between the world's two largest economies.

These have clearly attenuated since Mr. Blinken's visit in June.

This trip was followed by a meeting between Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in San Francisco in November, leading to a resumption of contacts between their two armies and cooperation in the fight against the manufacture of fentanyl, a synthetic drug which is wreaking havoc in the United States.

Mr. Blinken will begin his visit Wednesday in Shanghai where he will meet with students and business leaders.

Blinken in China to put pressure on Beijing while preserving stability

U.S. President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping after a meeting as part of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Week, November 15, 2023 in Woodside, California © AFP – Brendan Smialowski

This stop, intended to demonstrate the warm ties between Americans and Chinese, is the first in Shanghai by an American Secretary of State since Hillary Clinton in 2010.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also visited the industrial city of Guangzhou before traveling to Beijing earlier this month.

Sino-American relations are at a “different stage from where we were a year ago, when bilateral relations were at a historically low level,” noted a senior American official before Antony Blinken’s visit.

“We also believe, and we have clearly demonstrated it, that responsible management of competition does not mean that we must renounce taking measures to protect national interests of the United States,” he said.

– Pressure against support for Moscow –

The Joe Biden administration's willingness to collaborate with China stands in stark contrast to efforts to isolate Russia since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Blinken in China to put pressure on Beijing while preserving stability

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on April 6, 2024 in Canton © AFP – Pedro Pardo

If Beijing does not directly supply weapons to Russia, Washington has in recent weeks accused China of providing dual-use materials and technologies to Moscow that facilitate its most important rearmament effort since Soviet times.

“If China wants to have friendly relations with Europe and other countries on the one hand, it cannot fuel on the other hand what is the greatest threat to European security since the end of the war “cold,” Blinken said Friday after a G7 meeting in Capri, Italy.

The Biden administration had called the agreement reached with Xi Jinping on fentanyl. According to a senior US State Department official, since the November summit, China appears to have taken initial steps, which Mr. Blinken will ask for further development.

Blinken in China to put pressure on Beijing while preserving stability

Illustration of Tik Tok on April 19, 2024 in Paris © AFP – Antonin UTZ

“More regular crackdowns by China against Chinese chemical companies and manufacturers (…) involved in illicit fentanyl supply chains would send a strong signal of “China's commitment to tackling this problem,” he noted.

Another source of friction between the two countries is the new law passed by the US Congress on Tuesday requiring that the very popular TikTok application be sold by its Chinese parent company ByteDance, under penalty of being excluded from the American market.

Joe Biden will face Donald Trump in the presidential election in a few months, who championed a hard line against China.

Yun Sun, a researcher at the Stimson Center based in Washington, observes that Chinese leaders are waiting before the American elections.

Blinken in China to put pressure on Beijing while preserving stability

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a press conference following a G7 meeting in Capri, April 19, 2024 in Italy © AFP – Tiziana FABI

“The Chinese understand that the Biden administration is unlikely to deliver good news on the trade front because it does not fit with the election platform,” she said.

For Chinese leaders, this year, “the priority is to maintain the stability of relations.” “Until there is clarity on the next administration, I don't think they see a better strategy,” she added.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116