Blinken sees lower US tensions with China but renews alarm over risks on Taiwan

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that tensions have eased with China as he prepares for a rare visit but he renewed alarm over Beijing’s intentions over Taiwan.

Asked in an appearance at the University of Chicago if the temperature had subsided with China, Blinken replied, “I think so, because when you’re talking and engaging, it tends to have that effect.”

“The rest of the world expects us to manage this relationship responsibly. They know that the way we manage it is actually going to affect them, too,” Blinken said.

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Blinken will visit Beijing on February 5-6, according to a US official, in the first trip by a secretary of state to the rising Asian power since October 2018.

The trip was decided after Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping held talks in November in Bali on wide-ranging friction between the world’s two largest economic powers.

But Blinken again voiced alarm over Taiwan, which is claimed by China, pointing to Beijing’s growing efforts to isolate the self-governing democracy and the major military exercises it carried out near the island in August.

“What we’ve seen over the last few years is, I think, China make a decision that it was no longer comfortable with the status quo, a status quo that had prevailed for decades that had actually been successful in terms of the relationship between our countries and managing what is a difficult situation.

“What we say to China is this -- they say this is a sovereign issue for us; our response is this is an interest to the United States and to countries around the world,” Blinken said, pointing to Taiwan’s dominance in semiconductors crucial for the global economy.

Blinken was on a trip to Chicago that included visiting the midwestern metropolis’s historic Ukrainian community to discuss the response to Russia’s invasion.

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