Top officials from China and America are reportedly ramping up diplomatic exchanges between the world’s two superpowers, to prepare the way for a visit to the United States by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Beijing and Washington have been aiming for a summit between Xi and US President Joe Biden at this year’s APEC meeting in San Francisco in November, with China lobbying for a separate “high-profile” exchange between the two, the Wall Street Journal reported.
To set the stage for their meetings, amid tense relations, both sides are discussing a potential trip to Washington by Xi’s top economic-policy aide, Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng, the report said, citing people briefed on the matter.
Lifeng would be the most senior official to travel to the US since President Biden took office.
China’s top diplomat and foreign minister Wang Yi is also likely to visit Washington in October to prepare for a Xi-Biden summit, the report added.
While the planned diplomatic exchanges are aimed, in part, at restoring ties between China and the US, Xi is also hoping they will slow down Washington’s trade and technology restrictions targeting Beijing, the Journal said, citing people close to Beijing.
Despite those efforts, however, the two will likely “continue taking actions they believe are justified and that the other could interpret as provocative,” the report quoted Ryan Hass, director of the China Center at the Brookings Institution, as saying.
China says ‘carefully consider’ tech ban
Amid the efforts by officials in the two governments, Washington’s tech war targeting everything from chips to quantum computing, remains a thorn in the two countries’ relations.
China’s international trade council formally asked Washington on Friday to “carefully consider” rules that ban or restrict US investments in China’s tech sector.
The ban, which is yet to come into effect, would follow an executive order by Biden which prohibits or restricts investments in Chinese entities involved in semiconductors and microelectronics, quantum information technologies and certain artificial intelligence systems.
The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade said the order sets “vague and broad restrictions” on investors and transaction types, and does not differentiate between military and civilian purposes, according to state media reports.
“That not only gives rise to transaction risks and compliance cost … but also damages the highly inter-dependent global industrial chain,” the chamber, supervised by China’s Ministry of Commerce, added.
US financial firms, who were required to provide input on the ban by Thursday, are also pushing for greater clarity on the proposed new rules. The laws are too vague and put the onus of compliance on investors, firms say.
The rules, aimed at protecting US national security and preventing American capital from aiding China’s military, are expected to be implemented some time next year.
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Continuing efforts for dialogue
In keeping with the diplomatic push, meanwhile, two senior US and Chinese diplomats met in Washington and held what the US side described as “candid, in-depth, and constructive consultation.”
US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink met with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister for Asia Sun Weidong, the State Department said in a statement on Thursday.
The meeting followed other high-level engagements between the two countries in recent months that have seen visits from high-profile US officials to China like Secretary of State Antony Blinken in June, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in July and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in August.
More recently, Blinken met Chinese Vice President Han Zheng in New York and US national security adviser Jake Sullivan met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Malta.
Kritenbrink “reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” the State Department said, adding that the two sides also discussed other regional issues, including Myanmar, North Korea, and maritime matters.
- Reuters, with additional editing by Vishakha Saxena