China’s Wang Yi to visit US ahead of possible Xi-Biden meeting

The foreign minister’s trip comes amid rising tensions in the Middle East and South China Sea.
By RFA Staff
2023.10.24
China’s Wang Yi to visit US ahead of possible Xi-Biden meeting U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 13, 2023.
AP Photo/Dita Alangkara, Pool

Updated Oct. 24, 2023, 06:03 a.m. ET.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is to pay an official visit to Washington D.C. later this week, the U.S. State Department announced late Monday.

Wang will be the most senior Chinese official to visit the United States since the beginning of the year. His visit on Oct. 26-28 is taking place amid rising tensions in the Middle East, Ukraine and the South China Sea.

The State Department said in its announcement that the Chinese foreign minister will be hosted by his counterpart Antony Blinken, who visited China in June. 

The two top diplomats will “discuss a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues as part of ongoing efforts to responsibly manage the U.S.-China relationship and to maintain open channels of communication,” the announcement said.

U.S. media including the Wall Street Journal quoted unnamed government sources who said that one aim of Wang’s visit is to prepare for a potential meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November.

Chinese officials have yet to confirm Xi’s attendance at the meeting, which will take place in San Francisco from Nov. 15-17. If he attends, it would be the Chinese president’s first trip to the U.S. in more than six years. 

The last time Xi visited the U.S. was in April, 2017, to meet with Donald Trump at the then-president’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Xi Jinping and Joe Biden last met in November 2022, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia. 

Managing bilateral ties

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has, however, confirmed Wang Yi’s trip. 

Spokeswoman Mao Ning told reporters at a press briefing in Beijing on Tuesday that Wang “will have in-depth exchanges of views with senior U.S. officials on Sino-U.S. relations and international and regional issues of common interest.”

Wang is also expected to “have friendly exchanges with people from all walks of life in the United States to demonstrate China's principled position and legitimate concerns on Sino-U.S. relations.”

Mao said that China hopes both countries will cooperate to “strengthen communication and dialogue, expand practical cooperation, properly manage differences, and jointly push China-U.S. relations back to the track of healthy and stable development.”

Wang Yi was re-appointed as China’s foreign minister in July after Qin Gang was dismissed for reasons still not officially announced.

Washington and Beijing have been at odds over a number of issues including their own perspectives on the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, as well as China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea.

Only on Monday the U.S. condemned China’s “dangerous and unlawful actions” in obstructing a Philippine vessel near the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea at the weekend. Washington again vowed to defend Manila in any armed attack “on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, and aircraft – including those of its Coast Guard – anywhere in the South China Sea.” 

The Pentagon’s annual report on China’s military power said Beijing is becoming “more dangerous, provocative and coercive.”

The U.S. government has also repeatedly warned against China’s continuous diplomatic, political, and military pressure on Taiwan.

“The United States will continue to use diplomacy to advance U.S. interests and values, address areas of difference, and make progress on shared transnational challenges,” the State Department said while announcing Wang Yi’s visit.

Efforts by U.S. military officials to engage in talks with Chinese counterparts have been constantly snubbed by the latter, the Pentagon said last week.

Edited by Mike Firn and Taejun Kang.

Updated to include comment from China's foreign ministry spokesperson.

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