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In an article “Tensions in the Asian Trinity: China, Japan, U.S.A.” I noted that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was to visit Beijine for talks on 5-6 February 2023 and then set out some of the issues that might be discussed:
After five years of growing tensions among China Japan and the U.S.A., U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will make an official visit to Beijing on 5-6 February 2023.
There is a long list of possible issues to discuss although the list of common actions may be much shorter. Probably at the head of the list is the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its geopolitical and economic impact. There follows the status of Taiwan. Some have made a parallel between the Russian intervention in Ukraine and a possible attack on Taiwan. Russian difficulties in Ukraine have no doubt been discussed in Beijing, and the parallel discarded.
The role of North Korea and its military potential is a concern to China, to the U.S.A. and also Japan. The economic ties of North Korea to China as well as relations between North and South Korea is as aspect of the same Korean issue. The dramatic growth of Japanese government investment in the military and security sector, no doubt related to its view of Chinese power, will be an aspect of the China-U.S.A. talks. A full two days is ahead of the delegations.
Until there are better conditions. The reason given for the “postponment”.
Now, as an illustration of the tensions, the mission of Antony Blinken has been put off “until there are better conditions. The reason given for the “postponment” by the U.S. officials was that there was a Chinese observation balloon floating over U.S. air space in the Western states – a violation of U.S. sovereignty. The U.S. government officials put the focus on the fact that the balloon could observe military installations. The Chinese officials replied that the balloon was a weather observation instrument (and implied but did not say that the Chinese had other methods to observe U.S. military installations).
This is the official State Department photo for Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, taken at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 9, 2021. [State Department Photo by Ronny Przysucha/ Public Domain]. By U.S. Department of State, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
One does not know what is behind the sending of the “weather balloon” at this time, the weather observations could wait. From the U.S. side, the postponment may come as a relief since there was likely to be little progress on the key political issues.
The need to advance U.S. – China dialogue remains. As mentioned earlier, it may be up to non-governmental representatives to take the lead.
René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.