WASHINGTON: A senior US diplomat will embark on a rare trip to Beijing on Sunday, the government said, as Washington seeks to allay tensions between the rival powers.
Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink will travel to China and New Zealand from June 4-10, the US State Department said in a statement on Saturday.
In Beijing, Kritenbrink will be joined by National Security Council Senior Director for China and Taiwan Affairs Sarah Beran to “discuss key issues in the bilateral relationship,” according to the statement.
In recent weeks Washington has made efforts to improve relations with China, with both sides warning over the danger of a military conflict over Taiwan.
At the G7 meeting in Japan last month, US President Joe Biden predicted that ties between Washington and Beijing would soon thaw, after an alleged Chinese spy balloon was shot down by a US warplane after traversing the country earlier this year.
Assistant secy of state Kritenbrink, National Security Council official Sarah Beran will discuss ‘key issues in the bilateral relationship’
Kritenbrink’s trip will be the latest in a series of engagements between the two countries’ officials.
CIA Director William Burns made a secret trip to China last month, hoping to shore up lines of communication, and this week the White House said it was ready to engage in nuclear arms talks with Beijing without preconditions. In May, China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao visited Washington to meet with his American counterpart.
Kritenbrink had traveled to China to prepare a long-awaited trip by Secretary of State Antony Blinken in February, which Blinken cancelled after the United States said it spotted a surveillance balloon from China over the US mainland.
Ties between the world’s two largest economies are strained over issues ranging from Taiwan and China’s human rights record to military activity in the South China Sea.
During his travels from Sunday to June 10, Kritenbrink will also visit New Zealand to participate in the US-New Zealand Strategic Dialogue, the department said.
Kritenbrinks trip follows a visit last month to China by CIA Director William Burns. A US official said Burns “emphasised the importance of maintaining open lines of communication in intelligence channels” in meetings with his Chinese counterparts.
The White House has said further efforts were being made to facilitate visits by Blinken, as well as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2023