(CNSNews.com) – The Biden White House has said this several times in recent weeks, most recently on Monday:
President Joe Biden “wants to have another conversation with President Xi, and he’ll do that. And we’ll do that at the most appropriate time,” spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the White House.
“I don’t have a call in the schedule to speak to, but it’s important that we keep those lines of communication open, particularly now when tensions are so high,” Kirby continued:
“That’s why we’re — you know, we still want to get Secretary Blinken back to Beijing. That visit was postponed; it wasn’t canceled. And we’re still hopeful that we can get that back on the calendar.
“As a matter of fact, we’re having discussions with the PRC right now about a potential visit by Secretary Yellen and Secretary Raimondo to go over there and talk about economic issues. So there’s that — that we’re still working.
“So all — all of that — keeping those lines of communication open — are still valuable.”
Blinken’s planned trip to China on February was scrapped at the last minute when the American public learned about a Chinese spy balloon floating over the continental United States.
In a February 16 speech addressing concerns about unidentified objects flying over or near U.S. airspace, President Biden said, “This episode underscores the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between our diplomats and our military professionals.
“Our diplomats will be engaging further, and I will remain in communication with President Xi…And I expect to be speaking with President Xi, and I hope we have a — we are going to get to the bottom of this.”
Biden in that same February 16 speech refused to apologize for shooting down the Chinese spy balloon.
‘President Xi has been kind of busy’
On Monday, a reporter asked Kirby, “What is the holdup” in arranging a call between Biden and Xi Jinping: “You all seem interested in talking. Are the Chinese not interested?” the reporter asked:
“There’s no holdup — no holdup at all,” Kirby said, appearing to deny the obvious: “We want to make sure when we have this conversation it’s at the — at the appropriate time and in the right context.
“President Xi has been kind of busy of late. I mean, he had the People’s Congress, which just ended; now he’s in Moscow. So, look, when it’s the right time and — for both leaders, we’ll get them on the phone.
“But just as importantly, to my first answer on this, we’re still trying — you know, still interested in working towards getting Secretary Blinken back to Beijing. I mean, he was practically on the plane when we had to pull that visit back and postpone it.
“And as I said, we’re having active discussions with the PRC right now about the potential visit by Secretary Yellen and a — and one by Secretary Raimondo.”
Kirby acknowledged that military-to-military lines “are not open” between the U.S. and China: “And that’s — that’s a problem,” he said.
“That was, as you know, one of the things we were hoping Secretary Blinken would get thawed for us, because they are frozen. And, of course, that trip didn’t happen yet, so those lines are still not open.
But, look, through diplomatic channels, we still have the ability to speak with the Chinese. And we are. As I said, we’re working with them on a potential trip by Secretaries Yellen and Raimondo.
“And as I said earlier, the President will absolutely speak with President Xi at the appropriate time. That’s still open.”
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