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Blinken back in China seeking pressure but also stability

Blinken back in China seeking pressure but also stability

SHANGHAI, APR 24 (AFP/APP/DNA): US Secretary of State Antony Blinken returned Wednesday to China on his second visit in a year, as the United States ramps up pressure on its rival over its support for Russia while also seeking to manage tensions with Beijing.

The US diplomat will meet China’s top brass on Friday in Beijing, where he is also expected to plead for restraint as Taiwan inaugurates a new leader, and to raise US concerns on Chinese trade practices — a vital issue for President Joe Biden in an election year.

But Blinken is also seeking to stabilise ties, with tensions between the world’s two largest economies palpably easing since his last visit in June.

At the time, he was the highest-ranking US official to visit China in five years, and the trip was followed by a meeting between the countries’ presidents in November.

At that summit in California, Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a US wish list including restoring contact between militaries and cracking down on precursor chemicals to fentanyl, the powerful painkiller behind an addiction epidemic in the United States.

Blinken opened his visit in Shanghai. He will meet students and business leaders in what an aide called a bid to highlight warm ties between the American and Chinese peoples.

The friendly side trip — the first visit by a US secretary of state to the bustling metropolis since Hillary Clinton in 2010 — would have been unthinkable until recently, with hawks on both sides previously speaking of a new Cold War between the two powers.

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