US and China prepare for Biden-Xi Jinping meeting this year
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s upcoming trip to Beijing does not mean that the United States is moving toward significant changes in relations with the People’s Republic of China, according to U.S. analysts.
This weekend, Blinken will become the first head of American diplomacy to visit Beijing since 2018.
Meanwhile, officials in the two countries are preparing for another face-to-face meeting between the two leaders this year, according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
However, there is little hope that Blinken’s meetings with China’s top leadership will yield significant results or lead to a reset in the fragile relationship between the two countries.
“I don’t think we should have high hopes for significant breakthroughs as a result of this trip,” said Jude Blanchette, the Freeman Chair in Chinese Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC.
“On the other hand, I don’t think it’s a bad thing, given how much the relationship has deteriorated over the last five years,” Blanchette told reporters during a telephone briefing on Monday evening.
Speaking at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics in January, Blinken said open lines of communication can serve as a safeguard in U.S.-China relations amid rising tensions, adding that the temperature has dropped since former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August 2022.
February 24 marked the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The United States said that it had made it very clear to China the consequences of providing military and material assistance in the war with Russia against Ukraine.
Last week, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on the Chinese company Tianya Institute of Space Science and Technology (Changsha), also known as Spacety China, for providing satellite imagery of Ukraine to the Kremlin-linked private military company Wagner.
A subsidiary of Spacety China, based in Luxembourg, was also sanctioned.
U.S. officials and China experts said that Russia’s war in Ukraine will be discussed at Blinken’s meetings in Beijing.
“The debate about China’s policy toward Russia and Ukraine within China is one of the most heated topics I encountered during my time there,” said Scott Kennedy, senior advisor for China Business and Economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who spent a month and a half in China last fall.
“Many in China’s expert community believe that China has made a strategic mistake,” he added.
But in public, Chinese officials stick to Beijing’s position and narrative.
“It was the United States that started the Ukrainian crisis and is the main factor contributing to it,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning.