Top U.S. diplomat to visit China amid rising tensions

WASHINGTON — Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will journey to China this weekend on a visit that comes as tensions between Washington and Beijing soar on a number of fronts, the State Department mentioned Wednesday.

Sherman will meet Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and others within the northeastern metropolis of Tianjin on Sunday as a part of her present journey to Asia, which is also taking her to Japan, South Korea and Mongolia. She’ll later visit Oman.

China’s Foreign Ministry mentioned that Sherman would “maintain talks” with Xie Feng, a vice minister accountable for China-U.S. relations, and “meet” with Wang later.

“China will clarify … its willpower to safeguard its sovereignty, safety and growth pursuits and demand that the U.S. cease interfering in China’s inner affairs,” the ministry mentioned on its WeChat social media channel.

Sherman would be the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit China since President Joe Biden took workplace, although Secretary of State Antony Blinken and nationwide safety adviser Jake Sullivan met Wang and veteran Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi in Anchorage, Alaska, in March for what proved to be a contentious first exchange. John Kerry, the Biden administration’s particular local weather envoy, traveled to Shanghai for meetings together with his Chinese counterpart in April, however Sherman now outranks him.

Sherman’s visit to China follows a big deterioration in already badly strained U.S.-China ties in simply the previous two weeks, and there had been questions on why the journey was not introduced concurrently the remainder of her journey to the area.

Senior U.S. officers wouldn’t affirm recommendations that the Chinese had initially supplied solely lower-level officers for Sherman to meet. But they mentioned the Biden administration wouldn’t have agreed to the visit except they have been assured Sherman would give you the chance to see top-ranking officers in particular person. The officers weren’t licensed to preview the journey publicly forward of Wednesday’s formal announcement and spoke on the situation of anonymity.

The State Department mentioned the administration was “exploring alternatives” to have interaction face to face with Chinese officers at senior ranges.

“These discussions are a part of ongoing U.S. efforts to maintain candid exchanges with PRC officers to advance U.S. pursuits and values and to responsibly handle the connection,” the division mentioned in a press release, referring to the People’s Republic of China. “The Deputy Secretary will talk about areas the place we now have severe issues about PRC actions, in addition to areas the place our pursuits align.”

The officers mentioned Sherman’s agenda could be wide-ranging and canopy areas of rivalry in addition to a smaller set of areas of convergence, similar to a mutual need to deliver North Korea again to the negotiating desk for nuclear talks. But they allowed that the variations are huge and stark and certain to occupy a lot of the dialogue.

On Monday, the administration accused China of being behind a massive hack of Microsoft Exchange electronic mail server software program and indicted 4 Chinese nationals on fees they tried to steal U.S. commerce secrets and techniques, expertise and illness analysis. China rejected the hacking accusation and demanded that Washington drop the costs towards its residents.

Last week, the U.S. issued separate stark warnings towards transactions with entities that function in China’s western Xinjiang area, the place China is accused of repressing Uyghur Muslims and different minorities. The administration additionally advised American firms of the deteriorating funding and business setting in Hong Kong, the place China has been cracking down on democratic freedoms it had pledged to respect within the former British colony.

At the identical time, the administration reaffirmed a Trump-era policy shift that rejects almost all of China’s important maritime claims within the South China Sea and reminded Beijing that any army transfer towards the Philippines in disputed areas would set off a response below a U.S.-Philippines mutual protection treaty.

U.S.-China relations have additionally been aggravated by China’s rising threats toward Taiwan and its policies in Tibet.

Those points, all carried over from the Trump administration, got here on high of persistent tensions over China’s dealing with of the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in the city of Wuhan, and issues about predatory Chinese funding within the growing world and its makes an attempt to achieve supremacy within the world high-tech telecommunications sector.

Sherman, after assembly with the Chinese officers, will journey on July 27 to Oman, which has been racked with protests over its floundering economy and mass layoffs and has been hit hard by the coronavirus. She’ll meet with Deputy Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalifa Al Harthy to talk about “advancing peace and safety within the area and our shared dedication to bolstering the U.S.- Oman bilateral relationship,” the State Department mentioned.

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