Antony Blinken’s visit to China: How impactful is it?

Antony Blinken, the United States Secretary of State, arrived in Shanghai on the afternoon of 24 April for his second visit to China during his term in office. His visit aims to preserve the delicate stability between the US and China. On Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, the hashtag #US Secretary of State Blinken will visit China# (美国国务卿布林肯将访华) gained 250 million views and sparked 36,000 discussions. Netizens’ conversations reveal a considerable critique of Blinken’s visit, with some believing it to be a “waste of China’s time”.

During a telephone briefing, a senior State Department official stated that Blinken will address several pressing issues during the visits. These include China’s support of Russia, concerns over inexpensive Chinese exports impacting US employment, and provocative actions by Chinese vessels in the South China Sea. Chinese officials are expected to raise concerns regarding the US’ support of Taiwan, and discriminatory trade restrictions imposed by them.

One example of the tense US-China relationship faced by Blinken is that on Wednesday, President Biden signed into law a bill that grants the Chinese owner of the social media platform, ByteDance, nine months to divest the app TikTok, or else it will face a block in the US. While according to a previous statement from China’s Ministry of Commerce, China expressed firm opposition to the sale of the app.

During a visit to NYU’s Shanghai campus on Thursday, Blinken stated, “Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and other reasons, the number of U.S. students in China is now significantly lower than before, and we want to revive that number.” However, since 2022, the US Department of Commerce announced the restrictions of nearly 100 Chinese colleges and universities, and the cancellation of visas for several thousand graduate students and fellows who had a background in Chinese military academies. The situation of studying abroad between the US and China is pessimistic.

With it being an election year in the US, it is crucial for Blinken to strive to maintain the stability of the bilateral relationship. Wu Muluan, an associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, analysed that while significant progress during the visit is unlikely, both the United States and China aim to “sustain open channels of communication to prevent awkward situations“.


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