The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s announcement that Wang would attend the conference did not mention a meeting with Blinken. The State Department’s announcement of Blinken’s agenda in Munich said his focus would be on Ukraine, the Middle East and “transatlantic security.” Neither the State Department nor the Chinese embassy in Washington responded to requests for comment.

The agenda for the Blinken-Wang meeting in Munich will likely include planning a phone call between Biden and Xi in the coming months. A senior administration official’s readout of Sullivan’s meeting with Wang in January mentioned that such a call would occur sometime “this spring,” without elaborating.

Blinken’s upcoming meeting with Wang underscores efforts by Washington and Beijing to cool the rancor that has plagued U.S.-China relations over the past year. Bilateral relations plummeted following the discovery (and subsequent destruction by US Air Force fighter jets) of a Chinese spy balloon over the continental United States in February 2023.

Both sides have emphasized the need to maintain open lines of communication to prevent a relationship deeply strained by Chinese bullying of Taiwan, rising tensions between Manila and Beijing in the South China Sea and Xi’s “boundless” partnership with the Russian President Vladimir Putin veers toward potential conflict.

The White House considers its nine months of focused engagement with Beijing a diplomatic success. In recent weeks, Biden administration officials have repeatedly touted how that rapprochement has resulted in the creation of a U.S.-China Counternarcotics Task Force, the resumption of bilateral military-to-military contacts and an agreement to discuss the safe development of artificial intelligence.

By Sam