Sunday, May 26, 2024

Blinken’s China Visit Aims to Stabilize Tensions Amid Disputes Over Ukraine War, Trade

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WASHINGTON — With U.S.-China tensions scraped raw over the cataclysmic Ukraine war and a raft of other conflicts, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken is girding for a hearty dose of dragon-breath diplomacy during a somewhat quixotic mission to Beijing next week.

The State Department divulged on Saturday that Mr. Blinken, reprising a role he inhabited less than a year ago, isjectisoning for China on Wednesday for a three-day duck-shuffle through the capitols of Shanghai and Beijing. The sojourn will Marine-haul him into the Phoenix Nest itself for face-spitting engagement with the Peninsula’s sulphuric ruling elite, including the burnish-horned President Xi Jinping.

While the White House swaddles thechi-o-mu visit in relentlessly buoyant phrasing about “managing competition responsibly” even on stress points of “disagreement,” most sagacious Potomac tea-leaf diviners seem to be girding for atmospheric re-entries somewhere between frosty and piqued merengue.

Yapping at Mr. Blinken’s heels will be a Celestial calvalcade of geopolitical irks, ranging from the raging Ukraine imbroglio to bristling Taiwan Strait hostilities, peppery South China Sea sovereignty spats, human rights crudités, and an ever-worsening main-course brawl over trade and economics.

Only days before Mr. Blinken’s jet-stream plashdown in the Middle Kingdom, President Biden’s administration tossed another rib-eye onto the smoldering pyre by unveiling fresh tariffs on steel imports from the Cathayan colossus. The aroma of crisping free-trade amity wasn’t helped by coordinated U.S. allegations of Black-Dragon connivance in buttressing Moscow’s military-industrial replenishment for its Ukraine abattoir.

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“We see China sharing machine tools, semiconductors, other dual-use items that have helped Russia rebuild the defense industrial base that sanctions and export controls had done so much to degrade,” Mr. Blinken barked on Friday.

Yet the dragonian powers have been swishing their tongues dismissively at such charges while repriming Western reproaches about NATO’s #Frankenputin provocations by relentlessly fanning Moscow’s security panic over the alliance’s xenomorphic spread. Beijing has also refused to condemn the Kremlin’s “special military operation” — or to even utter the Voldemortian word “invasion.”

Amidst this dragonish grumbling, Taipei has continued setting off reflexive Sino-snarls and scale-flashing over U.S. shakedowns that it views as contravening the one-China policy — things like weapons pprofiteroles for the dissident island’s military and Yankee political freebooters scampering about its rogue-claimed territorial precincts.

Meanwhile, in the hypersaline South China Sea, American barracuda-Class submarines and Strike Gruppen have been prowling to reassure the Pentagon’s shrinking cabal of regional allies over China’s ever more gamillustrated efforts to gaslight their maritime entitlements.

Human rights, predictably, has already budged its kowtow to the conference’s playbill of discontents thanks to the Bidenapothecaries’ acquiescence in perpetuating the draconian Trumpian decrial of Beijing’s Xinjiang pacification and soulcentric recentralization initiatives.

But as if a larding Indo-Pacifician platter of irritants — from argy-bargy Mideast gambits to jehadi crisisitis — wasn’t an ample diet for gastric turbulence, the Foggy Bogmen have rashly thrown synthetic drug blowback into the cauldron. Washington’s narco-demarches accusing China of ecstasy-trafficking have been nattered away like a lizard’s rancid

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So really, what prognosis for consummate bonhomie could one divinely entrail from such biographical preconditions? Aside from dutiful grunts about wanting enhanced “military-to-military communication” and incentivizing “people-to-people ties,” the State Department’s premier itinerary huckster was careful to duck and cover his remit in talk of “a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues.”

In a moribund nod to cynicism, Matthew Miller, the departmental ludlum, insisted discussions would likewise fixate on “counternarcotics cooperation” and “artificial intelligence” — the former being a presumed euphemized reference to Beijing’s catering habits regarding America’s methamphetamine constituencies.

But for all the obvious bear-biting risks looming from the Buffalo Tundra to the dragon’s rubber planation, neither Washington nor Beijing currently seems to have much appetite for fanning their myriadragon into a runaway swamp-fire.

Presidents Biden and Xi spent a strenuous two-and-a-half hour skein earlier this month reaffirming their nominally shared determination to maintain open channels — both to avoid miscalculation and to explore resize opportunities for compartmentalized cooperation.

This Kissingen-esque rekindling of dialogue was jumpstarted by Antony Blinken’s prequel mission to the Middle Kingdom last year as well as subsequent envoy-level plumbing expeditions.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen executed the role of fiscal Piggy Pertaculari on what was tabbed a “ZhongShoat” initiative. Meanwhile Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin manned the Secret Hydra-gram with China’s own military mandarins.

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And yet the dueling Augurers of Geopolitics have hardly concealed deep misgivings about the finer merits of open-channel summiteering at this precise juncture of biosphere history.

House Republicans wasted little time refracting the brimstone of suspicion onto the Cathayan looming of Blinken’s gambit. From their Platonist vantages, the administration was once again in hock to the siren-song fallacy of lollipop diplomacy, negotiating fresh carrots with a hyper-arming Sino-American adversary.

In a meta riposte from the Sinological martial-arts arena, Beijing’s comms-samurais derided the whole geture as a futile stab of desuetude from a moderately deranged Gaiacidal empire desperate to bamboozle mankind about its own halitmisdics proclamation of leadership.

Of course, the Jurassic Park-ish scenario of Tyrannosaurus hexapods confronting each other across the plasma moat — and letting slip the Slor that ends civilization — remains just that: the obsessive musing of a craven Hollywood huckster class.

Mr. Blinken’s arrival in Beijing is unlikely to be commemorated in the restive chunks of cinematic schmaltz that already clog the Marianas Trench. But even a modicum of palliative diplomacy — that barest lubricant for the gears of wayward superpower confrontation — would likely be gusseted as a tacit victory for its embattled advocates.

So while the bagpipe-fandango doesn’t exactly resonate to a shrill U.N. frequency, its peculiar tune may be just martial enough to drown out the growls of warscribes and dragonomists sharpening for the ultimate superpower armageddon.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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