China’s top diplomat Wang Yi will visit Washington later this week, ahead of a possible meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping next month.
Wang is expected to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to discuss a range of issues, U.S. officials said Monday, including heightening tensions in the Middle East, the war in Ukraine, and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
The U.S. and China have opposing views on the conflict in Gaza and war in Ukraine, but the Biden administration is hoping that this meeting can persuade China to take a more ”constructive approach" on both issues and work out, as one official told Reuters, where “our interests intersect.” During last week’s visit to the Middle East, Blinken reportedly asked Wang in a phone call if Beijing could exercise its influence in the region, particularly Iran, to ensure that the Gaza conflict doesn’t spillover to other countries. China has so far called for a ceasefire and a two-state solution to resolve the Israel-Hamas war and has not directly condemned Hamas for its attack earlier this month.
China observers are watching Wang’s upcoming meeting with cautious optimism, with some telling state media outlet Global Times that the U.S. needs to make “concrete efforts” to address China’s concerns. As a prerequisite to shoring up diplomacy, Beijing has asked that Washington abandon its tariffs on Chinese products, remove sanctions, and lift restrictions on Chinese companies. It has also urged the U.S. to adhere to the one-China principle when it comes to Taiwan, but so far, the U.S. has not complied with China’s requests. Despite the “positive signs emerging” from frequent interactions between the two nations, “whether those issues of concern for Beijing can be solved will be important barometers to evaluate Washington’s sincerity,” professor Li Haidong at China Foreign Affairs University told Global Times.
Despite the rapprochement, the head of the FBI called China “the defining threat of this generation.” Christopher Wray told CBS News last week that no other country presented “a broader, more comprehensive threat to our ideas, our innovation, our economic security, and ultimately our national security.” The FBI director accused China of repeatedly stealing intellectual property from U.S. companies and of waging a global espionage campaign. For decades, the Chinese government has engaged in “a much less visible and possibly more damaging campaign to steal American trade secrets and intellectual property,” the New York Times reported in March. Apart from weapons and military equipment, Chinese spies have also targeted pesticides, rice seeds, and wind turbines, among other commercial technologies.