Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman’s trip comes amid new, almost daily divisions between the two powers, including human rights and cybersecurity.
Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman will travel to China this weekend on a visit that comes as tensions between Washington and Beijing soar on multiple fronts, the State Department said.
Sherman will meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and others in the northeastern city of Tianjin on Sunday as part of her ongoing Asia trip, which will also take her to Japan, South Korea and Mongolia. Later you will visit Oman.
“These discussions are part of the United States’ ongoing efforts to maintain candid exchanges with officials of the People’s Republic of China to advance the interests and values of the United States and to responsibly manage the relationship,” a State Department statement said Wednesday, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
“The undersecretary will discuss the areas where we have serious concerns about the actions of the People’s Republic of China, as well as the areas where our interests align,” he said.
Sherman will be the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit China since President Joe Biden took office, though Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with Wang and veteran Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi in Anchorage. , Alaska, in March for what turned out to be a controversial first exchange.
Sherman’s visit to China follows a significant deterioration in already tense relations between the United States and China in the past two weeks.
Senior US officials did not confirm suggestions that the Chinese had initially offered only lower-level officials for Sherman to meet.
But they said the Biden administration would not have agreed to the visit unless they were assured that Sherman would be able to see the high-ranking officials in person.
The officials were not authorized to publicly advance the trip before Wednesday’s formal announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Officials said Sherman’s agenda would be broad and cover areas of contention, as well as a smaller set of areas of convergence, such as the mutual desire to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table for nuclear talks.
The United States publicly accused Beijing on Monday of carrying out the massive Microsoft Exchange hack in March and issued a trade warning about the risks in Hong Kong.
China denounced what it called a “fabricated” campaign by the United States that brought together allies, including NATO, for a rare joint condemnation of alleged cyberattacks.
Last week, the US issued separate strong warnings against transactions with entities operating in the western region of Xinjiang, where China is accused of suppressing Uighur Muslims and other minorities.
The administration also briefed American companies on the deteriorating business and investment environment in Hong Kong, where China has cracked down on the democratic freedoms it had pledged to uphold in the former British colony.
At the same time, the administration reaffirmed a Trump-era policy shift rejecting nearly all of China’s major maritime claims in the South China Sea and reminded Beijing that any military move against the Philippines in disputed areas would trigger a low response. a United States-Philippines mandate. mutual defense treaty.