Blinken's China visit highlights US needs to cooperate with China on domestic, intl issues
US should be wise to communicate with China respectfully and as equals, abandon condescending gestures
Published: Apr 21, 2024 08:23 PM Updated: Apr 21, 2024 09:30 PM
Antony Blinken Photo:AFP

Antony Blinken. Photo:AFP

Before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's upcoming visit to China, US officials adopted their usual tactic of using harsh language to apply pressure on China, expressing so-called strong concerns about China's support for Russia and the Taiwan question. Chinese observers stated that the recent frequent visits of Blinken and a string of US officials to China recently indicate that Washington is unable to solve domestic and global issues without cooperation from China. Therefore, when seeking help from Beijing, the US would be wise to communicate with China respectfully and as equals, rather than condescendingly. 

Blinken will meet with senior Chinese officials in both Shanghai and Beijing during his April 24-26 visit, CNN quoted a senior US State Department official as saying on Saturday. 

The US State Department said Saturday that Blinken would "discuss a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues," including the Middle East, the war in Ukraine, the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits.

He will also talk about progress made in "resuming counternarcotics cooperation, military-to-military communication, artificial intelligence, and strengthening people-to-people ties" and will reaffirm how important it is for the US and China to be "responsibly managing competition, even in areas where our two countries disagree," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said, according to media report. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian welcomed Blinken's upcoming visit at Thursday's media briefing, but provided no further details. 

Negative factors

After the meeting of the two heads of state in San Francisco last year, China-US relations have to some extent stabilized, but negative factors keep on increasing. Blinken's visit is to implement the consensus of the two heads of state, but from the so-called focus points announced by the US government, it is possible that the visit will widen the differences and create more negative factors, Lü Xiang, research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

Lü pointed out one example as Filipino and US forces will conduct their annual joint military exercises soon, including simulations of sinking ships, which is widely seen as targeted at China. 

During his upcoming visit, Blinken will also reportedly ask Beijing to avoid "provocative" measures during next month's inauguration of Lai Ching-te, who was elected as Taiwan's regional leader in January, AFP quoted a US official as saying.

Blinken's tactical goal this time is clearly to launch a verbal offensive against China, including on the South China Sea, trade issues, and the Taiwan question, in order to put pressure on China, Lü noted. 

He believes that if Blinken puts forward these propositions, China will definitely hit back resolutely. China will also be highly vigilant on the Taiwan question and won't let the US hurt its core interest. 

As the US has already entered the presidential election season, the Biden administration, although deeply mired in domestic political competition, is unwilling to show weakness at this time, and no matter how unprepared it is in dealing with those global issues, officials from the Biden administration are still trying to show that it is capable and strong, said Lü. 

Abandon condescending approach

CNN on Saturday quoted an official from the US State Department as saying that Blinken plans to "reiterate our deep concerns regarding the PRC's support for Russia's defense industrial base, as well as its human rights abuses and unfair economic and trade practices." 

The US House of Representatives on Saturday approved billions of dollars in new US military aid for Ukraine to help combat Russia. The foreign aid package passed on Saturday also includes military support for Israel, and funding for allies in the Asia-Pacific, including island of Taiwan. 

Chinese experts said this foreign aid package mirrored Biden administration's lousy performance on handling foreign affairs. When Biden realized the Russia-Ukraine conflict is beyond US' ability to solve, he forced the House of Representatives to pass a bill to support Ukraine, in order to showcase its strength and to muddy the waters to extricate themselves by blaming the US' failure on China's "support" for Russia. 

After overcoming the obstacles of sending support to Ukraine, Washington will inevitably focus on obstructing China's trade with Russia. China will face new struggle with the US in terms of defending its sovereignty in foreign trade, said experts, noting that Washington should be clear that it has very few tools to pressure China in this regard. 

US foreign aid has prolonged the crisis in Ukraine. As of January 2023, the US commitment to Ukraine amounted to $76.8 billion, of which military aid accounted for the largest share, $46.5 billion, or 61 percent. US media revealed that 40 percent of US military aid to Ukraine is used for the mandatory purchase of US equipment and training services, known as "tied aid." Part of the military aid is a financial loan that will become a long-term liability for Ukraine, said the report released by China titled "the Hypocrisy and Facts of the United States Foreign Aid."

On global issues, apart from expressing "concerns" over China's cooperation with Russia, Blinken will also reportedly discuss the situation in the Middle East. The US has repeatedly called on China both publicly and privately to press Iran to exercise restraint as tensions simmer between it and Israel, according to CNN.

After Iran launched a retaliatory attack on Israel earlier this month, Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he should consider Iran's strikes a win, since they had been largely unsuccessful and demonstrated Israel's ability to defend itself. Biden had already made clear to Netanyahu that the US would not participate in any offensive operations against Iran in response, a senior administration previously told CNN.

Experts suggest that Blinken's upcoming visit, coming as the US presidential election draws near, signals the US government's desire to engage in stabilizing ties with China to avoid any potential incidents that could negatively impact the Biden's election prospects.

The recent frequent visits of Blinken and other US officials to China indicate that without China, it will be difficult for the US to achieve its plans for domestic, regional and global issues. Therefore, the US hopes that China will help it resolve the problems it faces, Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times.

However, since the US is seeking help from China, it should do so on the basis of equality and respect in its communication with China. But now, it seems that the US is adopting a pressuring and commanding attitude towards China. This is not conducive to communication, so the US needs to correct its attitude, Li noted.