Bad blood with China? Blinken buys Taylor Swift album in Beijing

BEIJING (Reuters) -U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken snapped up a Taylor Swift album along with one by classic Chinese rocker Dou Wei during an unexpected detour to a Beijing record store on Friday after talks in China meant to ease superpower tensions.

En route to the airport after a visit that included a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Blinken popped into the LiPi record store in the Chinese capital's arts district where the owner handed him an album by Dou Wei, which he bought along with Swift's 2022 record "Midnights".

One of the aims of Blinken's trip has been to emphasize the importance of what the State Department calls "people-to-people ties" as part of efforts to improve relations.

In the Beijing record store, he described mega pop star Swift, whose hits include "Bad Blood" from her fifth album in 2014, as a successful American export.

In 2019, Swift's album "Lover" broke a new record for an international artist in China as it surpassed one million combined total streams, downloads and sales within a week of its release. The combined total made it China's most-consumed full-length international album ever in such a short space of time.

Blinken, an avid musician and guitar player, described music as "the best connector, regardless of geography", and said he loved vinyl records because of the liner notes.

Asked by the shop owner what music he was into, Blinken, who is 62, said he loved everything but added: "I’m a bit stuck in the '70s."

(Reporting by pool, Simon Lewis and David Brunnstrom; editing by Mark Heinrich)