Secretary of State Antony Blinken became the first of his position to visit China in five years as President Joe Biden hopes to thaw currently frosty relations with the country.
Blinken’s visit was postponed in February after the Chinese spy balloon incident, in which an aircraft equipped with surveillance technology drifted over sensitive US military sites before it was shot down off the east coast.
Biden offered a renewed defense of China’s government over the incident as Blinken kicked off his trip on Saturday.
“I don’t think the leadership knew where it was and knew what was in it and knew what was going on,” Biden told reporters. “It was, I think it was more embarrassing than it was intentional.”
“And so, I’m hoping that, over the next several months, I’ll be meeting with Xi [Jinping] again and talking about legitimate differences we have but also how there’s areas we can get along,” he concluded.
However, also on Saturday, a Biden administration official confirmed that China has been spying on the US from a base in Cuba after the White House initially denied reports.
Blinken’s Trip Criticized
During a call on Wednesday, Blinken’s Chinese counterpart Foreign Minister Qin Gang pointedly stated that the US should “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and undermining China’s sovereign security and development interests in the name of competition.”
China has also grown closer to Russia during its invasion of Ukraine, leading pundits to be skeptical that any progress can be made during this Blinken’s visit or in the near future.
“Blinken’s trip to China makes no sense from the foreign policy standpoint and he should just turn around and go home – cancel this trip,” Rebekah Koffler, a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer, told Fox News.
“Washington knows the trip is pointless because in a pre-trip briefing on Wednesday, U.S. officials revealed they have no expectation of a breakthrough in U.S.-China relations that are at a low point.”