China’s Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao will meet US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai while visiting the United States, his ministry confirmed on Thursday.
Wang and Raimondo will meet on Thursday, Shu Jueting, Chinese commerce ministry spokesperson, told a regular briefing in Beijing.
The development comes on the heels of China’s recent ban on purchases from US memory chip-maker Micron Technology.
On Wednesday, White House spokesman John Kirby had said the Micron ban won’t torpedo larger efforts to get US-China relations into better position, adding that Washington was engaged directly with Beijing.
The meeting between Wang and Raimondo will be held in Washington, sources said. That would make this the first cabinet-level meeting between Chinese and American officials of the Biden administration in the US capital.
Wang has traveled to the US for the 2023 APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting, in Detroit from Thursday to Friday, where he will meet Tai.
“The Chinese side will exchange views on China-US relations and issues of common concern,” Shu said.
On Monday, Wang met representatives of American firms in Shanghai, including Johnson & Johnson, 3M, Dow, Merck, and Honeywell, according to the Ministry of Commerce, telling them that “China will continue to welcome US-funded enterprises to develop in China and achieve win-win results”.
Earlier this month, the Chinese commerce minister met US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns in Beijing amid speculation about a visit from top US officials.
In February, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had postponed a planned trip to China after the US shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon.
Raimondo and Blinken, as well as US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, have all expressed interest in visiting China.
‘Ups and downs’
China declared Micron a national security risk on Sunday, banning the firm from selling its memory chips to key domestic industries.
The ban followed a series of raids on American consultancies and due diligence firms operating in China.
White House’s Kirby said he did not expect the Micron ban to derail White House efforts for a more productive relationship with China.
“This is a complicated relationship and there’s going to be ups and downs,” Kirby said, adding Washington would “not sit idly by when we see the PRC act inappropriately.”
“That doesn’t mean that it alone should or will – or is – torpedoing the larger effort that the president was speaking to about getting the lines of communications back open,” he added.
“We are going to try to see if we can get more productive engagements in coming months,” Kirby added.
Kirby also said the ban was an attempt to undermine the Group of Seven (G7) nations’ strong stance against economic coercion, coming just one day after the G7 issued its first-ever statement on the issue.
Meeting in Hiroshima, US President Joe Biden and other G7 leaders had said last week they would “de-risk” without “decoupling” from the world’s second-largest economy in everything from chips to minerals.
“China hopes the G7 will not abuse trade and investment restrictions while saying that they will not seek to decouple from the country,” China’s Shu said.
Biden said on Sunday the G7 agreed to “de-risk and diversify” their relations with China, but also forecast a thaw in relations could come “very shortly”.
Kirby said Biden was referring to a spate of outreach and discussions with Beijing that had shown some “potential promise.”
Tension between the world’s two biggest economies has been rife since last year over a range of issues including China’s support for Russia during the Ukraine war, the US’ ongoing tech war with China, the spy balloon saga and Washington’s support for Taiwan, which China claims as its territory.
- Reuters, with additional editing by Vishakha Saxena