Politics

Blinken Tours China to Promote Some Ties, While the U.S. Severs Others

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken cheered on the sidelines at a basketball game in Shanghai on Wednesday night, and spent Thursday chatting with students at New York University’s Shanghai campus and meeting American business owners. It all went to emphasize the kind of economic, educational and cultural ties that the United States is pointedly holding up as beneficial for both countries.

But hanging over those pleasantries during his visit to China this week are several steps the U.S. is taking to sever economic ties in areas where the Biden administration says they threaten American interests. And those will be the focus of greater attention from Chinese officials, as well.

Even as the Biden administration tries to stabilize the relationship with China, it is advancing several economic measures that would curb China’s access to the U.S. economy and technology. It is poised to raise tariffs on Chinese steel, solar panels and other crucial products to try to protect American factories from cheap imports. It is weighing further restrictions on China’s access to advanced semiconductors to try to keep Beijing from developing sophisticated artificial intelligence that could be used on the battlefield.

This week, Congress also passed legislation that would force ByteDance, the Chinese owner of TikTok, to sell its stake in the app within nine to 12 months or leave the United States altogether. The president signed it on Wednesday, though the measure is likely to be challenged in court.

Mr. Blinken’s visit, which was expected to take him to Beijing on Friday for high-level government meetings, had a much more cordial tone than on the trip he made to China last year. That trip was the first after a Chinese spy balloon traveled across the United States, tipping the American public into an uproar.

Mr. Blinken talking with Ambassador Burns while attending a basketball game between the Shanghai Sharks and the Zhejiang Golden Bulls in Shanghai on Wednesday.Credit…Pool photo by Mark Schiefelbein
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