Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to China this week in a sign that relations between Beijing and Washington are improving after a massive feud erupted in February with the downing of a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that breached U.S. airspace and loitered near sensitive military sites as it traversed much of the country.

The top U.S. diplomat is planning to meet with Foreign Minister Qin Gang and potentially President Xi Jinping as part of a months long effort to reopen lines of communication between the world’s two largest economies amid historically poor relations.

The trip will mark Blinken’s first trip to China as secretary of state and the first time a U.S. Secretary of State traveled to China in five years — a large gap in high-level contact for which U.S. officials are trying to rectify. "There is no substitute for in-person meetings," said Dan Kritenbrink, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia, in a phone call with reporters on Wednesday.

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