US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s visit to China is imminent. With one sentence, ruler Xi now takes Putin’s side again: The United States is to blame for the outbreak of war in Ukraine.

Shortly before the visit of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to the People’s Republic, the communist leadership intensified its rhetoric towards Washington. A State Department spokeswoman blamed the outbreak of war in Ukraine on the United States, saying they were “the ones who started the crisis” and are now “the biggest factor fueling the crisis.”

The ruler Xi is once again siding with his dictator friend Vladimir Putin, and the back and forth between support for Putin and appeasement of the free world is entering the next round.

Almost exactly a year ago, both dictators hailed their friendship as a bulwark against freedom and democracy. Then Xi was caught off guard by Putin’s attack on Ukraine, and Beijing found itself caught between dictator loyalty and economic interests. Xi then adopted Kremlin language, calling the first war of aggression in Europe after the end of Hitler’s dictatorship a “military special operation.”

At the same time, Beijing moderated its military support in order to avoid being hit by sanctions that would have further damaged the Chinese economy, which was already struggling as a result of Xi’s mismanagement.

Beijing spoke out against a nuclear strike by Russia and demanded that both sides come together for peace negotiations. The newly elected President of Brazil, Luis Inacio Lula, has made this demand his own. He suggested striving for peace negotiations together with him. At the same time, left-wing politician Lula supported Beijing’s rhetoric, saying “the US doesn’t want real peace” in Ukraine. Beijing comes at a time with this support for one of the world’s largest democracies.

A few weeks ago the pendulum swung in a different direction. In order to repair a little of the damage that Beijing has caused on the diplomatic floor, Qin Gang, a diplomat, became the foreign minister of the People’s Republic and was previously the ambassador to the United States. In an interview before leaving for his homeland, Qin praised the people of the United States, which was understood as an olive branch that Beijing offered to the United States. Also the replacement of the government spokesman, Zhao Lilian, who also belongs to the “Wolf Warriors” faction. By now, the hard rhetoric against the free world should have calmed down a bit.

But the new escalation blaming the US for the Ukraine war points in the opposite direction. The reason for the escalation is that the US accused Chinese companies of supporting the war against Ukraine. The State Department spoke of “unfounded suspicions” and asked Washington to stop delivering weapons to Ukraine.

Red Alert: How China’s aggressive foreign policy in the Pacific is leading to a global war

In this tense situation, Anthony Blinken travels to the People’s Republic. The on-site talks will again focus on Taiwan, among other things. Beijing regards any friendship that countries have with the island’s democratic republic as interference in the People’s Republic’s more internal affairs. Beijing claims that the free country belongs to the People’s Republic.

The truth is that the Communist Party never ruled the island. The People’s Daily, a CCP propaganda paper, issued an editorial on Wednesday calling on the US to respect China’s sovereignty and not cooperate in the island republic’s “independence”.

China’s rulers have tried in recent years to oust the United States from the Pacific region. However, Xi’s saber-rattling and war rhetoric have done the opposite: in addition to Taiwan, the Philippines, South Korea, Japan and Australia have strengthened their alliances with the United States and each other.

India, China’s arch-rival, is also converging on this new Indo-Pacific alliance. The US therefore has the upper hand in the talks. At the same time, the expectations for Blinken’s visit to China, which US President Biden and Xi Jinping agreed upon when they met in Bali last September, are manageable given the mixed situation.

Alexander Görlach is Honorary Professor of Ethics at Leuphana University in Lüneburg and Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York. After stints in Taiwan and Hong Kong, he has focused on the rise of China and what it means for East Asian democracies in particular. From 2009 to 2015, Alexander Görlach was also the publisher and editor-in-chief of the debate magazine The European, which he founded. Today he is a columnist and author for various media. He lives in New York and Berlin.