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Blinken to travel to China next week: Reports

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Beijing next week, Reuters and the Associated Press reported Friday, as the United States seeks to shore up strained ties with China.

Both Reuters and AP said Blinken would be in Beijing on June 18, next Sunday, citing anonymous American officials. AP said he would meet with Foreign Minister Qin Gang and possibly President Xi Jinping.

State Department officials would not confirm the reported plans.

In February, Blinken abruptly canceled a trip to Beijing just hours before he was set to depart Washington after officials said a Chinese spy balloon was found floating over the United States. China insisted it was a weather balloon that strayed off course.

Since then, an unofficial trip by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen to New York and Los Angeles in March has further inflamed ties.

Relations between the world’s two major powers have been tense since August, when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan to the protests of Beijing, which regards the democratic island as a renegade province and has vowed to reunite it with the mainland.

There has also been an uptick in near-miss accidents between the two countries’ militaries in the past two weeks in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait, with the Pentagon accusing China’s navy and air force of dangerous maneuvering in front of American vessels.