Blinken to return to China with message on Russia support

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken next week will pay his second visit in less than a year to China, hoping to use easing tension to press Beijing to curb wartime support for Russia.

Blinken's trip Wednesday through Friday marks a further lowering of U.S.-China friction that soared under former president Donald Trump, who is again vowing a hard line if he returns in November elections.

But U.S. President Joe Biden, while seeking greater stability between the world's two largest economies, has kept up pressure.

In the days ahead of Blinken's trip, Biden met jointly with the leaders of U.S. allies Japan and the Philippines, both wary of China, and moved to raise steel tariffs on a "cheating" China.

"We are in a different place than we were a year ago when the bilateral relationship was at an historic low point," a senior U.S. official told reporters ahead of the trip announcement.

"We've set out to stabilize the bilateral relationship without sacrificing our capacity to strengthen our alliances, compete vigorously and defend our interests," he said on customary condition of anonymity.

High on Blinken's agenda will be what U.S. officials say is a major push by China that has helped Russia, in the throes of the Ukraine invasion, carry out its biggest militarization since Soviet times.

U.S. officials say China has stopped short of direct military assistance but has provided dual-use supplies that have let Russia regroup amid a long delay in U.S. aid to Ukraine due to inaction in the House of Representatives, led by Trump's Republican Party.

Blinken will take the message directly to Beijing after encouraging European allies to make their concerns known with China, which is seen as eager for smooth relations...

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