A top US State Department official will visit to China next week, the department announced on Saturday, as Washington works to improve communication with Beijing at a time when ties between the two nations are strained.
The State Department stated in a statement that US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink will discuss “key issues in the bilateral relationship” during his visit to China. Sarah Beran, Senior Director for China and Taiwan Affairs at the White House National Security Council, will accompany him.
Ties between the world’s two largest economies are strained over issues ranging from Taiwan and China’s human rights record to military activity in the South China Sea.
During his travels from Sunday to June 10, Kritenbrink will also visit New Zealand to participate in the U.S.-New Zealand Strategic Dialogue, the department said.
Kritenbrink’s trip follows a visit last month to China by CIA Director William Burns. A U.S. official said Burns “emphasized the importance of maintaining open lines of communication in intelligence channels” in meetings with his Chinese counterparts.
On Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin rebuked China for refusing to hold military talks.
Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s top security summit, Austin said Beijing’s reluctance to talk undermined efforts to maintain peace in a region where the two rivals are increasing their military firepower.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a planned February trip to China after an alleged Chinese spy balloon flew through U.S. airspace over sensitive military sites, kicking off a diplomatic crisis.
But the White House has said further efforts were being made to facilitate visits by Blinken, as well as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.