A top Chinese trade official will fly to the United States next week in a bid to bolster ties that have been undermined by geopolitical tensions in recent months.
Commerce Minister Wang Wentao will meet his US counterpart, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, and Washington’s top trade official.
Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for China’s embassy in Washington, made the announcement during an online briefing with journalists, adding that Beijing was open to communication at all levels with the US, but only on the basis of mutual respect.
The Chinese embassy later said in an emailed statement that both sides were still discussing details of the plans.
APEC trade meeting in Detroit
A source familiar with planning for the meetings said that Wang is expected to meet with Gina Raimondo next week before travelling to Detroit for a meeting of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) trade ministers.
Wang would then meet with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on the sidelines of that gathering, on either May 25 or 26.
Spokespersons for Tai’s and Raimondo’s offices did not respond to requests for comment.
Washington has expressed eagerness for high-level meetings with China in an effort to keep increasingly tense relations from veering toward conflict.
President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan met China’s top diplomat Wang Yi last week in Vienna, and both sides recognized the need to move beyond an alleged spy balloon incident that dented relations between the superpowers, a senior US official has said.
Biden has been seeking to hold a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping but neither side has offered updates on the prospects for such a call, or on the possibility of rescheduling a visit to Beijing by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Blinken postponed a planned February trip after the US shot down a Chinese ‘spy’ balloon that flew over sensitive military sites.
US-Taiwan trade deal
“It is imperative for the US side to adopt a correct perception of China and we hope the US side will return to a rational and pragmatic China policy for the two countries to better develop themselves and prosper together,” Liu told reporters.
Liu said China and the US should put into practice what has been agreed between Xi and Biden at their last meeting in November and properly handle sensitive issues such as Taiwan, the democratically self-governed island claimed by China.
The US and Taiwan agreed on Thursday on an initial trade pact, a move likely to anger China, which sees official engagement by the island with other countries as a violation of its sovereignty.
“China is open to communication at all levels and cooperation across the fields with the United States, but only on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit,” Liu said before that trade deal was announced.
He added that the US should work with China to “create favorable conditions for the future interactions between the two presidents”.
Some Biden administration critics, including Republican lawmakers, have questioned US overtures to Beijing to hold high-level meetings, arguing that past decades of engagement have failed to change China’s calculus on a slate of trade, security and human rights issues.
Blinken, Raimondo, and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have all expressed interest in visiting China.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard