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Two months after a Chinese spy balloon floated across most of the U.S. and Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a planned trip to China in response to the incident, Beijing is rebuffing the Secretary's attempts to reschedule his visit.
According to a U.S. official, China has essentially frozen contact with high-level U.S. officials. Not only has Blinken been unsuccessful in rescheduling his trip to China, but the Biden administration has also been struggling to schedule a call between Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Beijing is also not accepting visits from other high-level U.S. officials.
Prior to the balloon incident, both Beijing and Washington were making efforts to continue engaging at a high level despite rising tensions. However, due to Blinken's cancellation of his visit and Washington's decision to shoot down the balloon, China's engagement attempts have ceased.
Following the balloon episode, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin attempted to contact Wei Fenghe, his Chinese counterpart, who has since been replaced but was unsuccessful. Wei was replaced by Chinese general Li Shangu, who is under sanctions by the U.S. for being involved in the purchase of Russian weapons.
Washington's Russian sanctions have further complicated U.S.-China military communications, but the Biden administration has given no indication to suggest it will lift them anytime soon.
On Wednesday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy pushed tensions with China even further when he met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in California, despite numerous warnings and threats from Beijing.
China had already been increasing its military presence in the Taiwan Strait as a result of the planned meeting. Tensions between China, Taiwan, and the U.S. are anticipated to increase over the next few weeks as Beijing is expected to increase its military exercises as it continues to express its discontent with what it sees as America's defiance.