US Senate Majority Leader Schumer Meets Xi Jinping – On Monday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Schumer expressed his appreciation for a more forceful statement from China denouncing the actions of Hamas, which involved the killing and abduction of Israeli and foreign civilians. This statement was issued during a bipartisan congressional visit to Beijing, where they had an extensive meeting with President Xi Jinping.
Schumer led a delegation of six senators to China with the goal of improving relations, which had significantly deteriorated in recent years due to trade tensions, U.S. support for Taiwan, human rights concerns, and other issues. This delegation, consisting of both Democrats and Republicans, marked the first visit by U.S. lawmakers since 2019 and took place amid increasing criticism of China in Congress, as the United States grapples with China’s growing global influence.
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Earlier in the day, Schumer had conveyed his disappointment to Foreign Minister Wang Yi over China’s previous lack of strong condemnation of the attack on Israel and its failure to express sympathy for the Israeli people and their situation. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said later Monday that China is “deeply saddened by the civilian casualties caused by the conflict between Palestine and Israel.”
“China opposes and condemns acts that harm civilians,” along with actions that “expand conflict and undermine regional stability,” Mao said, going beyond an initial Foreign Ministry statement on Sunday. China hopes for a resumption of peace talks, the implementation of a two-state solution, and a “comprehensive and proper settlement of the Palestinian issue, which guarantees the legitimate concerns of all parties, through political means, as early as possible,” Mao said at a daily briefing.
The Chinese Embassy in Israel reported that one of the hostages taken by Hamas militants, who were responsible for the deaths of at least 800 individuals in Israel, is a young woman with dual Israeli and Chinese heritage. “Noa was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists when attending a peace music festival in southern Israel. She was dragged from Israel to Gaza,” an embassy statement said. “She is a daughter, a sister and a friend.”
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In addition, Schumer’s delegation held meetings with the leader of China’s legislature, the commerce minister, and Wang, the top-ranking diplomat of the country. Notably, there were no immediate reports on President Xi’s remarks, and Wang did not provide a response before journalists were escorted out of the room. Schumer said he had made a direct request to Xi to strengthen the Foreign Ministry’s statement on the Hamas attack and the “horrible, gut-wrenching loss of civilian life,” which had been omitted from the earlier missive.
“I’m gratified that the Foreign Ministry issued a new statement that did condemn the loss of civilian life,” he told reporters at a news conference following the conclusion of meetings. Schumer’s meeting with Xi lasted for 80 minutes, which was 20 minutes longer than originally planned. This extended duration underscored the thorough preparation and the in-depth nature of the discussions, as stated by the senator.
During the meeting, the U.S. delegation conveyed their concerns about the absence of reciprocity and the necessity for a fair and equitable business environment for American companies in China. They also urged China to take action to prevent the export of chemicals used in the production of the highly addictive drug fentanyl, which has contributed to a lethal wave of addictions.
“Both sides, the Chinese and us, said unless we have sincere conversations about our differences and not pull any punches, that we would never solve these problems,” Schumer said. Both governments are working on scheduling a meeting between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping at an upcoming regional summit in San Francisco next month. This effort is aimed at addressing and navigating the increasingly tense relationship between the two countries.
China has historically supported the Palestinian cause while simultaneously strengthening its relations with Israel as part of its efforts to play a more significant role in trade, technology, and diplomacy. In recent times, China has increased its engagement in the Middle East, playing a role in facilitating the reestablishment of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran and hosting Syrian President Bashar Assad during a visit to China.
During his conversation with Xi, Schumer emphasized that the primary focus of the Senate delegation is to pursue equitable trade between the United States and China. “We want the Chinese people to have economic opportunity. That would be good for America,” he said. “But China must also provide a level playing field for American companies and workers. Many Americans, most Americans including our delegation, do not believe we have that fairness now.”
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Earlier, Wang stressed the importance of the United States respecting China’s fundamental interests and development rights, which is a recurring message as Beijing aims to counter American trade and technology export restrictions that it perceives as hindrances to its economic growth and global ascent.
Schumer, on the other hand, urged China to withdraw its implicit support for what he described as Russia’s unethical war in Ukraine, promote human rights, and release detained Americans. Russian President Vladimir Putin is anticipated to visit China later this month. China maintains a position of neutrality in the conflict but has refrained from condemning Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and has criticized international sanctions imposed on Moscow as a consequence.