WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to travel to China this month as the Biden administration pushes to improve frayed ties with the Chinese.

US officials say Blinken expects to be in Beijing on June 18 to meet with senior Chinese officials, including Foreign Minister Qin Gang and possibly President Xi Jinping.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because neither the State Department nor the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs have yet confirmed the trip.

The visit, which was agreed between Xi and President Joe Biden last year at a meeting in Bali, had initially been planned for February but was postponed after the spy balloon incident in which the US shot down a Chinese plane that , according to Beijing, was a weather balloon. that he had strayed off course.

Since then, there have been contacts between the US and China, but they have been sparse due to heightened tensions over China’s conduct in the South China Sea, aggressive moves toward Taiwan, and support for Russia’s war against China. Ukraine.

Last week, China’s defense minister turned down a request by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for a meeting on the sidelines of a security symposium in Singapore.

However, China’s trade minister traveled to the United States last month and Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan met China’s top diplomat Wang Yi in Vienna in early May.

The White House said at the time that the meeting “was part of ongoing efforts to keep the lines of communication open and manage competition responsibly. The two parties agreed to maintain this important strategic channel of communication to advance these objectives.”

Most recently, the top US diplomat for the Asia-Pacific region, Daniel Kritenbrink, traveled to China earlier this week along with a senior National Security Council official.

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