US-China Relations Following Blinken's Beijing Visit

July 04, 2023

Relations between the United States and China have slid to their lowest point since the 1970s. After President Biden and Xi Jinping met in November 2022, they instructed their senior officials to initiate a process to stabilize the relationship. Before much headway could be made, however, China sent a surveillance balloon to the west coast of the United States that ended up loitering over sensitive military sites and then flew across the entire country before being shot down by the US. Secretary of State Blinken postponed his planned visit to China. Acrimony and distrust spiked.

Several months later, the US and China decided to try again. Blinken visited Beijing from June 18-19, and had meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, CCP Central Foreign Affairs Office Director Wang Yi, and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang. What is the trajectory of the bilateral relationship after the visit? Is it possible to stabilize ties and resume dialogue mechanisms and some forms of cooperation, or is further deterioration of relations more likely?

To discuss these issues, host Bonnie Glaser is joined by Dr. Evan Medeiros, the Penner Family Chair in Asia Studies in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and the Cling Family Distinguished Fellow in U.S.-China Studies. During the Obama administration, Evan served for six years on the National Security Council as Director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia.

Episode Highlights:

[01:45] US-China Relations at this Juncture

[05:10] Deterioration of US-China Relations

[08:30] Analysis of Secretary Blinken’s Visit

[10:40] Principles Guiding US-China Relations

[13:16] Is agreement on principles a precondition for progress?

[13:48] Is the US-China relationship dominated by competition?

[16:45] Top-Down Pressure to Deny Competition

[18:30] Displacing the United States

[19:50] Where Blinken’s Visit Fell Short

[22:48] Putting a Floor Under the Relationship

[24:46] Interpreting Evolving Sino-Russian Relations

[28:15] China’s Initial Reaction to the War in Ukraine

[29:24] Forecast for US-China Relations

[31:57] Incentives for Stability