Senior U.S. State Department Official Visits China Amid Tense Ties

Senior U.S. State Department Official Visits China Amid Tense Ties – According to the government, a high-ranking US diplomat is scheduled to make a rare visit to Beijing on Sunday in an effort to ease tensions between the two rival powers. The US State Department announced on Saturday that Daniel Kritenbrink, the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, will be traveling to China and New Zealand from June 4-10.

During his time in Beijing, Kritenbrink will be accompanied by Sarah Beran, the National Security Council Senior Director for China and Taiwan Affairs. Their objective, as stated in the announcement, is to engage in discussions on important matters concerning the bilateral relationship between the two countries. In recent weeks, Washington has been actively working towards improving relations with China, as both sides have expressed concerns about the potential risks of a military conflict related to Taiwan.

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During the G7 meeting in Japan last month, US President Joe Biden expressed his anticipation for an improvement in relations between Washington and Beijing. This followed an incident earlier this year where a suspected Chinese spy balloon crossed the country and was subsequently shot down by a US warplane. Assistant Secretary of State Kritenbrink, accompanied by National Security Council official Sarah Beran, will engage in discussions regarding important matters in the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

Kritenbrink’s upcoming trip is part of a series of interactions between officials from the United States and China. In an undisclosed visit last month, CIA Director William Burns traveled to China with the aim of strengthening communication channels. Additionally, this week, the White House announced its readiness to engage in nuclear arms talks with Beijing without any preconditions. In May, China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao visited Washington for a meeting with his American counterpart.

Kritenbrink previously traveled to China in February to prepare for a highly anticipated visit by Secretary of State Antony Blinken. However, Blinken ultimately canceled the trip following the United States’ identification of a surveillance balloon from China flying over its mainland. The relationship between the world’s two largest economies is strained due to various issues, including Taiwan, China’s human rights record, and military activities in the South China Sea.

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During his travels from Sunday to June 10, Kritenbrink will also make a trip to New Zealand to participate in the US-New Zealand Strategic Dialogue, as stated by the department. Kritenbrink’s visit comes after CIA Director William Burns’ recent trip to China last month. In meetings with his Chinese counterparts, Burns reportedly emphasized the importance of maintaining open lines of communication in intelligence channels, according to a US official. The White House has announced ongoing efforts to facilitate visits by Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

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