As tensions rise, the US sends a senior official to China.
The State Department stated Wednesday that US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will fly to China this weekend to address rising tensions, in what will be President Joe Biden’s highest-level visit.
Despite new rifts between the two powers almost daily, including on human rights and cybersecurity, the trip is proceeding, indicating that both sides want to at least test the waters to see if diplomacy can bring more stability to a relationship that is often described as the most important in the world.
“These meetings are part of continuous US efforts to have open discussions with PRC officials to advance US interests and values and to appropriately manage the relationship,” according to a State Department statement.
“The deputy secretary will cover areas where we have severe concerns about PRC measures, as well as areas where our interests are aligned,” the statement stated.
Even yet, the trip won’t have all of the trappings of a full-fledged formal visit. Sherman will not travel to Beijing, but will instead spend two days in Tianjin, China’s eastern port city, beginning on Sunday.
She will meet with senior officials in Tianjin, including Foreign Minister Wang Yi, according to the State Department.
The only other top official from the Biden administration to visit China is John Kerry, the former secretary of state turned US climate envoy, as the world’s two greatest polluters committed to work together on the global catastrophe despite their disagreements.
Kerry did not hold talks in the capital, instead meeting with his climate counterpart in Shanghai, where the typically media-friendly former senator had few public appearances.
In a clearly hostile meeting in March in Alaska, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security advisor, met with Wang and top Chinese official Yang Jiechi in a visibly tense meeting in which the Chinese side berated the US in front of the cameras.
China warned just hours before Sherman’s visit that efforts on climate change, which Biden sees as a vital mutual interest, would be jeopardized if the US continued to “wantonly interfere in China’s internal affairs.”
“I want to underline that the general health of Sino-US relations is closely tied to the cooperation between China and the United States in certain fields,” said Zhao Lijian, a spokeswoman for the foreign ministry.
The US has openly accused Beijing of carrying out the major Microsoft Exchange hack in March and issued a business alert warning of risks in Hong Kong since last week. The. Brief News from Washington Newsday.