America’s No. 2 diplomat has arrived in China to discuss the fraught relationship between the countries on Monday with two top Foreign Ministry officials.
Wendy Sherman, the deputy secretary of state, will hold separate meetings with Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng, who is in charge of U.S.-China relations, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a closed-off resort hotel in the city of Tianjin.
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She is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit China since President Joe Biden took office six months ago. Relations between the countries deteriorated sharply under his predecessor, Donald Trump, and the two sides remain at odds over a host of issues including technology, cybersecurity, human rights and other issues.
In an interview Saturday, Wang accused the U.S. of adopting a superior attitude and using its strength to pressure other countries.
“China would never accept any country that claims to be superior to others,” he told China’s Phoenix Television. “If the U.S. has not learned to treat other countries equally, China and the international community have the responsibility to help the U.S. learn how to do this.”
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Biden administration officials have said the goal of the talks is not to negotiate specific issues but to keep high-level communications channels open. The U.S. wants to ensure that guardrails are in place to prevent competition between the countries from becoming conflict, they said.
A possible meeting between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to be on the agenda, possibly on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Rome at the end of October.
Sherman, who arrived Sunday evening from Mongolia, tweeted “heartfelt condolences (from the United States) to those who have lost loved ones” in severe storms and flooding last week that killed at least 63 people in Henan province.
Her meetings follow an initial and highly contentious meeting in March in Anchorage, Alaska, where Wang and veteran Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi flew to meet Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
John Kerry, the Biden administration’s special climate envoy, traveled to Shanghai for meetings with his Chinese counterpart in April.