Blinken’s Imaginary China Adventures

Jerry Grey
4 min readJun 9, 2023


We all know that Blinken cancelled his planned trip to China in February because a weather balloon caused him some consternation but we still haven’t seen any report on the analysis of what that balloon contained — it’s been quarter of a year and it doesn’t take anyone familiar with the equipment longer than just a few minutes with it to recognise that it probably was, exactly what China said it was, a stray weather balloon.

What’s most interesting about this trip that he had planned, was that it was media that had said he was coming. China said they had never invited him and went on to say that, even Blinken himself had never announced he was coming. Australia’s ABC took the story to another level and suggested that China had stalled the meeting, that’s what they said in their headlines!

People might be forgiven for thinking that this was a one off but no. Blinken now says he’s planning another trip, at least his staff and “people familiar with the matter” none of whom are named have said so.

This is deliberate, if the Chinese say no, it’s easy enough to suggest that some unnamed junior staffer got it wrong and no one loses face. If China says, yes, ok he can come, then the reporters high five each other and congratulate themselves on their journalistic integrity; then they’ll write another story about how they knew they were right and this decision not only vindicates them but their media outlet can claim a scoop. Pooper scoop more like. But it’s far more important than this.

Because, once again, the media are reporting something that the Administration haven’t announced and here’s the really important part of this: China has already announced that they have no information on the visit either.

Let’s call this out for what it is: western media are not only attempting to create the narrative that we all follow; they are, if a pun may be used, floating a balloon of possibility while speculating it might become truth. In doing so, they’re creating not reporting the news and, in doing that, placing China into an untenable position.

China will be seen as antagonistic if they reject a visit after it’s been floated; China will appear weak if they say yes to a formal request. Whatever decision, China will not be happy. The US, once again has not played a fair game.

In recent months the US has started conversations suggesting they want open and fair competition while at the same time imposing sanctions to prevent that open and fairness going both ways, they have decreed they stand by the One China Policy and wish to maintain the status quo while going completely against the agreements they made in Shanghai, a generation ago.

They have said they want “freedom of navigation” through “international waters” when neither such thing exists in international maritime law and at the same time have abused the system of UNCLOS which allows for innocent passage of ships for peaceful purposes; Western warships sailing though the body of water between Taiwan and the Mainland could not, in any reasonable interpretation be defined as innocent passage, this is confirmed by Article 19 of the Law of the Sea Convention.

In short, pretty much everything the US has said to China and the actions after they’ve said it indicate that USA is not a country that stands by its word.

So, China has a couple of options, they can say they don’t want to meet with Blinken until there’s been some de-escalation and that would be fair. But, it would be seen in almost all English language media as well as many European media outlets as aggressive and give the US, at least in that community, the upper hand.

They can also say, ok, let’s get this done and invite Blinken to talks. The US and the usual followers would define this as a victory and, once again, at least in those circles, the US would have the upper hand.

The alternative, my suggestion, is to play them at their own game: let him come, let him claim that victory and, when he arrives, make sure there is no one at the airport to meet him. Go along with the agreed meetings but at the last minute, Qin Gang, the Minister of Foreign Affairs should fall ill, or be called away for some national emergency.

Wang Yi, the Director of Foreign Affairs and China’s top diplomat, needs to be out of the country and therefore the meeting will take place with lower-level administrators and the piece-de-resistance, just as happened with Ursula Von Leyen when she visited China, make sure there’s no formal egress from the country and he has to leave through normal channels. Unfortunately, a bag search would be out of the question as he has diplomatic status but his departure needs to be ignominiously recorded and replayed on social media globally.

Visiting dignitaries should be treated with the respect they deserve, Friends of China deserve the red carpet but, in the last few years, the USA has shown itself not to be any sort of friend and does not deserve the same privileges as true friends.

I’m sure it won’t happen, but I’d also be very happy if it did. There’s my suggestion to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Jerry Grey

I’m British born Australian living in Guangdong and have an MA in Cross Cultural Change Management. I write mostly positively about my China experiences