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US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken speaks at the US-Israel Public Affairs Committee Annual Policy Summit on June 5, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due to visit China in the next few weeks for talks, two US officials told NBC News on Tuesday.

The news comes after a previously planned trip was postponed following the discovery of a Chinese spy balloon flying over the United States.

U.S. officials did not provide additional details about the timing of Mr. Blinken’s return visit, first reported by Bloomberg.

Brinken postponed the trip in February after what he believed to be a reconnaissance balloon entered U.S. airspace and flew across the U.S. mainland, after U.S. fighter jets crashed the balloon off the coast of South Carolina. , the plane was able to collect information from several classified US military bases, but now, a former US official said in April.

According to then-State Department spokesman Ned Price, Blinken told then-Chinese official Wang Yi that the ballooning was “an irresponsible act that undermined the purpose of the visit and a clear violation of U.S. sovereignty and international law.” It’s a violation,” he said.

China’s foreign ministry previously called the balloon a “civilian airship” used for weather research.

Since the incident, relations between the two countries have deteriorated, with leaders postponing or rejecting talks. Just last week, China rejected a US request to meet with its defense secretaries at a security summit in Singapore. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping had previously met in Bali, Indonesia, in November, and Brinken agreed to visit China to follow up on the talks.

Territorial tensions with Taiwan were also on the agenda between the two leaders, an issue that has not faded months later.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday, referring to the November meeting, that Biden was “confident” that the two countries could “restore the spirit of Bali.”

On Monday, the U.S. military released footage from last weekend showing Chinese warships and U.S. destroyers approaching within 150 yards of each other in the Taiwan Strait, according to the U.S. military. A Chinese government representative defended his actions on Monday, saying “China always respects the right to navigation”.

Discussions over the future of Taiwan, an autonomous island China claims it owns but has never ruled, are expected to be a big topic of discussion when Mr Blinken visits Beijing. In the midst of this, it became a close call.

In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly last fall, Mr. Biden said the United States opposed “unilaterally changing the status quo” in the Taiwan Strait, but Mr. Xi ruled out the possibility of using force to occupy the Strait. not denied.

Since the Taiwan Relations Act was enacted in 1979, the United States has typically avoided mentioning whether it would defend Taiwan against Chinese aggression, a policy known as “strategic ambiguity.” The Act obliges the United States to provide defensive weapons to Taiwan and makes this clear. The US government established diplomatic relations with the Chinese government in the hope that Taiwan’s future would be determined peacefully.

But Biden has repeatedly said the United States will defend Taiwan if China invades it. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said in September that Mr. Biden’s remarks “violated an important U.S. promise not to support Taiwan’s independence,” but Biden administration officials insisted U.S. policy had not changed. bottom.

Other issues between the US and China continue to sour relations between the two countries. In October, the Biden administration restricted sales of key semiconductors to China, a move China’s foreign minister called a “bullying tactic.” Brinken also criticized China’s crackdown on civil liberties in Hong Kong and Tibet, saying China’s systematic detention of the Uyghur minority amounted to “genocide and crimes against humanity.”

Asia Society's Rory Daniels says US-China relations look very delicate and fragile at the moment

Blinken’s upcoming visit is also seen as an attempt to allay the security concerns of key U.S. allies in the Indo-Pacific, including South Korea and Japan.

“I fear that the current state of Sino-US relations is like a powder keg and could explode at any moment,” Lee Jae-joong, a lawmaker on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the South Korean National Assembly, said in March.

Aspects of U.S.-China relations have turned out to be the rare points of bipartisan agreement in Congress. Last month, the bipartisan House Select Committee on China adopted policy recommendations on potential conflict and abuse of Uyghurs in Taiwan.

In August last year, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen during a visit to the autonomous island of Taiwan. provoked a reaction. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) met with Tsai in California in April, just before the bipartisan delegation visited Taiwan. Mr. Blinken embarks on high-stakes expedition to China

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