U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday one of the major goals of his trip to Beijing is to establish "open and empowered communications" with Chinese officials.

Blinken said such a development is needed and also desired by the rest of the world so that the United States and China can "responsibly" manage their differences, address misperceptions and avoid miscalculations.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference with Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan at the State Department in Washington on June 16, 2023. (Anadolu Agency/Getty/Kyodo)

"Intense competition requires sustained diplomacy to ensure that competition does not veer into confrontation or conflict," Blinken said in Washington following a meeting with his Singaporean counterpart, hours before departing on the first trip to China by a U.S. secretary of state since 2018.

Following months of escalated tensions between the two countries, Blinken is due to engage in a series of talks with senior Chinese officials for two days from Sunday, which may also include a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the end of the visit.

The trip was agreed upon by U.S. President Joe Biden and Xi last November in a meeting in Indonesia to promote more high-level exchanges between the two countries, despite disagreements over various issues and intense geographic rivalry, especially in the Indo-Pacific region.

Blinken was initially scheduled to travel to the Chinese capital in February, but the United States abruptly put off the plan after a suspected Chinese spy balloon flew across the country.

At a joint press conference with Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, the top U.S. diplomat said his trip has two other major objectives.

He said they are to advance U.S. interests and values, including speaking frankly about its "real concerns on a range of issues," and to explore potential areas for cooperation where the two countries' interests intersect, such as global economic stability and climate change.

U.S. officials have said they do not anticipate a breakthrough in the country's difficult and complicated relations with China just by Blinken's trip, which is also the first Cabinet-level visit since the Biden administration's inception in January 2021.

But they expect the visit to pave the way for increased communications between senior U.S. and Chinese officials across the board.

Blinken himself said at the press conference, "This is an important but, in a sense, insufficient step because there's a lot of work to be done."

While reopening military-to-military lines of communication is seen as the most challenging, U.S. officials foresee a visit to China by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to talk about economic issues to follow in the not-so-distant future.

Biden has said he will speak to Xi again at an appropriate time.

The Singaporean diplomat said the trip is "so important" because almost all global issues, including pandemics and even cybersecurity, require the United States and China to "work off the same page and be key pillars for the global system."

But Balakrishnan added that "excessive expectations" should not be placed on the upcoming meetings as there are fundamental differences in outlook and values between the United States and China.

"It takes time for mutual respect and strategic trust to be built," he said. "So we all watch with interest and concern and some optimism because as diplomats we all have to be optimistic, otherwise you will not keep trying."