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Blinken Eyes Trip to China as Tensions Ease

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is likely to reschedule an aborted visit to China in the coming weeks, officials said Tuesday, as the two powers try again to put a cap on tensions.

Blinken had been set to travel to China in February but canceled the trip after the United States detected and later shot down what it said was a Chinese espionage balloon over US soil.

But both countries gave a positive assessment of a recent visit to Beijing by senior US officials, which included Daniel Kritenbrink, the top US diplomat for East Asia who also arranged Blinken’s previously planned trip.

A US official said on condition of anonymity that Blinken was expected to reschedule his visit to China in the coming weeks but stressed that no date had been set.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that the recent talks in Beijing touched on “the potential for future visits” and were “very useful.”

“I think you’ll see us speak to future visits here in the near future,” he told reporters.

State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said that Kritenbrink and senior White House official Sarah Beran had “candid and productive discussions” in China, but regarding Blinken’s trip said only, “We look forward to rescheduling that visit when conditions allow.”

“Our viewpoint is that there is no substitute for in-person meetings or engagements, whether they be in Washington or Beijing, to carry forward our discussion,” Patel told reporters.

Tensions have soared in recent years between the world’s two largest economies on a host of issues, including trade and security, with the United States voicing concern that China is moving ahead on preparations to seize Taiwan, the self-governing democracy claimed by Beijing.

Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping agreed to work to avoid miscalculations when they held extensive talks in Bali in November, but tensions soon flared anew over the balloon.

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