Taipei to keep tabs on Blinken’s China visit

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said it will keep close tabs on United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to China on Feb. 5 and 6, the first trip by a U.S. secretary of state to Beijing since October 2018.

Asked about Blinken’s Beijing visit at a time of major tensions in Sino-American relations, MOFA spokesman Jeff Liu (???) told CNA that the ministry always closely monitors high-level exchanges between the United States and China.

Liu reiterated that there is mutual trust and open communication channels between Taiwan and the U.S. and that MOFA will remain in close contact with Washington to stay up to date on Blinken’s trip.

According to White House national security spokesman John Kirby, the main focus of Blinken’s Feb. 5-6 trip to China will be Russia’s war in Ukraine and other issues such as the two countries’ militaries and climate change.

Kirby said Tuesday those issues were sidelined when China launched large-scale military drills to protest a visit to Taiwan last August by then-U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, heightening bilateral tensions.

Blinken will seek to get talks on these issues “restored and/or revitalized,” Kirby said.

Meanwhile, in a Tuesday press briefing on the visit held by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington D.C.-based think tank, two CSIS members said they did not expect any breakthroughs from Blinken’s trip.

That did not mean the meeting was a bad idea, however, “given how far the relationship [between the U.S. and China] has deteriorated over the last five years,” said Jude Blanchette, Freeman chair in China Studies at CSIS.

He said the meeting would build on U.S. President Joe Biden’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (???) in November 2022 and a meeting between Dan Kritenbrink, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng (??) in December.

“This is really about reestablishing the undergirding of the relationship and putting in place some procedures and mechanisms to be able to manage through some of the tensions in the relationship right now,” Blanchette said.

Bonny Lin, senior fellow for Asian security and director of the China Power Project at CSIS, agreed, saying she did not believe there will be “really large deliverables that both sides could really point to as changing or fundamentally altering U.S.-China relations.”

“I think we should view this as the United States trying to showcase to the international community that the United States and China can continue to maintain channels of communication and that communication can occur at the highest levels,” she said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel