China commerce minister to meet US officials amid tense relations
China‘s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao is set to visit the United States next week to meet with US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, according to Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for China’s embassy in Washington. The visit comes as the US aims to engage with Beijing to repair strained relations. Liu announced the plans during an online briefing with journalists, emphasising that Beijing is open to communication with the US at all levels, provided it is based on mutual respect.
Wang’s meeting with Raimondo will take place in Washington before he heads to Detroit for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) trade ministers’ gathering, scheduled for May 25 to 26. Wang is expected to meet with Tai on the sidelines of the event. Spokespersons for Tai’s and Raimondo’s offices have not yet commented on the matter.
The US has shown eagerness for high-level meetings with China in an attempt to prevent increasingly tense relations from escalating into conflict. Last week, President Joe Biden‘s national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi in Vienna. Both sides acknowledged the need to move beyond the recent alleged spy balloon incident that strained relations between the two superpowers, according to a senior US official.
Biden has been seeking a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but no updates have been provided on the prospects for such a call or the possibility of rescheduling a visit to Beijing by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Blinken’s planned visit in February was postponed after the US shot down a Chinese balloon that flew over sensitive military sites.
Liu Pengyu urged the US to adopt a correct perception of China and expressed hope that the US would return to a rational and pragmatic China policy for the mutual development and prosperity of both countries. He also called for the implementation of agreements made between Xi and Biden during their last meeting in November and for the proper handling of sensitive issues such as Taiwan, the democratically self-governed island claimed by China.
Yesterday, the US and Taiwan agreed on an initial trade pact, a move likely to anger China, which views official engagement by the island with other countries as a violation of its sovereignty. Liu stated that China is open to communication and cooperation with the US across various fields, but only on the basis of mutual respect, equality, and mutual benefit. He also urged the US to work with China to “create favourable conditions for the future interactions between the two presidents.”
Some critics of the Biden administration, including Republican lawmakers, have questioned US overtures to Beijing to hold high-level meetings. They argue that past decades of engagement have failed to change China’s stance on a range of trade, security, and human rights issues. Blinken, Raimondo, and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have all expressed interest in visiting China, reports Channel News Asia.
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