US senators make first congressional visit to China since 2019

2023-10-07 10:13:04

SHANGHAI (AP) — A delegation of U.S. lawmakers, led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, arrived in China on Saturday in the first visit by congressmen to the country since 2019.

The trip occurs amid the sharp deterioration in relations between Beijing and Washington and at a time when officials from both nations are trying to lay the groundwork for a possible meeting between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping in November.

The delegation of six senators — three Democrats and three Republicans — landed in Shanghai on a government plane on a cloudy, windy afternoon. Republicans are led by Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo, the party’s ranking member on the House Finance Committee.

Asked about his expectations for the visit, Schumer, a Democratic senator from New York, indicated that he hopes it will be productive.

Several senior Biden administration officials have met with their Chinese counterparts in Beijing in recent months, but no lawmakers had traveled to the country since China lifted strict COVID-19 restrictions in December last year.

China said in a statement earlier in the week that it hoped the visit would “contribute to a more objective understanding of China in the US Congress.”

In a reminder of tensions between the two nations, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said Saturday that Washington’s new restrictions on 42 companies in the country were “a typical act of economic coercion and unilateral intimidation.”

The Commerce Department on Friday included the Chinese companies and seven others on its list of entities alleging that they supplied “U.S.-origin” semiconductors that Russia uses for missile and drone guidance systems in its war in Ukraine. U.S. companies cannot export their products to organizations on that list without a special license.

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Schumer’s office said the visit will focus on China’s need for reciprocity toward American companies in trade and maintaining American leadership in advanced national security technologies. Additionally, he hopes to discuss human rights, fentanyl production and China’s role in the international community, as well as possible areas of cooperation.

A smooth visit could help pave the way for a meeting between Biden and Xi during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in San Francisco next month.

The senators hope to meet with the Chinese president in Beijing during this trip.

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