SINGAPORE — An austere greeting on the airport tarmac in Beijing sans a red carpet. A stone-faced handshake from China’s top foreign policy official. A seat looking up at the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, perched at the head of a long table.
To international audiences, the optics of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s two-day visit to Beijing barely raised any eyebrows. Foreign ministers are rarely, if ever, met with much fanfare at the airport. And an audience with a head of state alone is a sign of great importance and respect.