US State Department Official Arrives in Beijing for Talks Amid Strained Relations with China

US State Department Official Arrives in China for Meetings on Bilateral Relations

Bilateral Relations on the Agenda

A senior US State Department official arrived in Beijing on Sunday for meetings scheduled for this week, as Washington seeks to improve communication with China amid strained relations between the two countries.

The ministry said on Saturday in a statement that Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kreitenbrink would discuss “important issues in bilateral relations” during his visit in China.

Accompanying him on the visit is Sarah Biran, director for China and Taiwan affairs at the White House National Security Council, according to the statement.

Strained Relations

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have been tense over issues such as Taiwan’s respect for human rights in China and military activity in the South China Sea.

A foreign ministry spokesman said formal Kreitenbrink meetings would begin on Monday.

According to the spokesman, Kreitenbrink will address human rights issues in his meetings and will continue to defend fundamental freedoms in China.

The US embassy in Beijing did not respond to a request for more details on the schedule of Kreitenbrink’s visit.

Kreitenbrink’s arrival coincides with the anniversary of the crackdown on protesters in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989. Rights groups say he killed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of protesters.

Continued Engagement

Kreitenbrink’s visit follows a visit from CIA Director William Burns in China last month. A US official said Burns “stressed the importance of keeping lines of communication open between the intelligence community” during his meetings with his Chinese counterparts.

But US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Saturday chastised China for its refusal to hold military talks.

Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, the top security summit in Asia, Austin said Beijing’s reluctance to conduct the dialogue has undermined efforts to maintain the pace in a region in which the two rivals are strengthening their military capabilities.

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