U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will make a four-day visit to Beijing from Thursday for meetings with senior officials as the United States and China seek to increase high-level communication, despite disagreements on a host of political and economic issues.
The Treasury Department, which announced Yellen's trip to China on Sunday, said her discussions with Chinese officials will focus on ways to "responsibly manage" bilateral ties, communicate directly about areas of concern and work together to deal with global challenges.
Yellen's meetings will take place about two weeks after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Beijing and agreed to stabilize the complex relationship between the world's two largest economies.
Blinken's trip was the first Cabinet-level visit since the administration of Joe Biden began in January 2021.
After the long-awaited visit, Biden, however, called Chinese President Xi Jinping a "dictator" during a fundraising event in California and his remark triggered a strong reaction from Beijing.
Biden later suggested he would not retract the comment. "The idea of my choosing and avoiding saying what I think is the facts with regard to the relationship with...China is just not something I'm going to change very much," Biden said, adding he expects to meet with Xi "sometime in the future, in the near term."
A senior Treasury official, who briefed reporters on the upcoming visit, said it is important for the two countries that collectively represent about 40 percent of global output to "understand each other's actions and to cooperate where possible."
"So even where we disagree, it's vital to maintain communication to prevent misinterpretations and unintended consequences," the official said, while stressing the United States seeks "healthy economic competition" with Beijing and has no intention of pursuing economic decoupling.
At the same time, the official said there are concerns regarding a number of Chinese actions, such as its non-market economic practices and revised counterespionage law, so the U.S. government does not expect "significant breakthroughs" stemming from the first trip by Yellen.
Whereas Blinken met with Xi, the official said Yellen is unlikely to have a chance to converse with the Chinese leader on her visit through Sunday, noting that historically it is not typical for a U.S. Treasury secretary to do so.
The Treasury official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a major purpose of the visit is to engage with the new Chinese economic team formed in March.
The official did not disclose with whom Yellen will hold talks, but one of her counterparts is likely to be Vice Premier He Lifeng, who is in charge of economic and financial affairs.
During the visit, Yellen is also due to directly engage with leading U.S. companies doing business in China, as well as Chinese citizens.