US senior diplomat to visit China amid tensions

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will travel to China amid significant deterioration in already badly strained Washington-Beijing ties.

Scheduled for July 25-26, the trip would mark a visit by the highest-ranking US official to China since US President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

“In the PRC, the Deputy Secretary will travel to Tianjin to meet with PRC offifcials, including State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.  These discussions are part of ongoing U.S. efforts to hold candid exchanges with PRC officials to advance US interests and values and to responsibly manage the relationship. The Deputy Secretary will discuss areas where we have serious concerns about PRC actions, as well as areas where our interests align,” the State Department said in a statement on Wednesday.

The rivalry between the US and China has intensified in recent years with Beijing’s growing international clout and rapid economic progress, emerging as a viable counter-weight to the US.

China hoped for an improvement in relations under President Joe Biden, who succeeded Donald Trump in January, but the new administration has shown no sign of backing down on hardline policies toward China.

The two sides are at odds over a range of issues, including alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang, the disputed territories in the South China Sea, cyberattacks, and Beijing's policies regarding Hong Kong.

In June 2019, unprecedented anti-government protests began in Hong Kong over a proposed extradition bill. It was shelved under pressure from demonstrations later on, but the turbulent protest movement continued into the next several months and became more violent, endangering the lives and property of citizens.

The protesters have been demanding Hong Kong’s secession since then. They have received encouragement from the United States.

The Chinese government says the United States and Britain have been fanning the flames of the unrest in Hong Kong by supporting the protesters.

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