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Prof. ST Hsieh

Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum

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October 4, 2023

China’s Foreign Ministry has officially confirmed that Senator Chuck Schumer’s delegation will visit China next week. But there is no mention of who will host the US delegation.

The following newspaper’s headline should be properly changed to read “Little hope of US Senators meeting Xi Jinping in Beijing”. First of all, President Xi did not issue the invitation. Secondly, President Xi deals with US Administration mostly. Based on protocol, Senator Schumer’s delegation should be hosted by the head of China’s People Congress.

Then Chinese officials at the central government probably won’t have anything specific to comment on the business about a US private company: Micron.

We wish Senator Schumer and his colleagues a very pleasant trip to Beijing. But it is difficult to anticipate any substantive outcome because it is not clear at all what Senator Schumer is bringing any beef to the table.

Little hope of Xi Jinping meeting US senators in Beijing, analysts say

South China Morning Post

Tue, October 3, 2023 at 2:30 AM PDT

Chinese President Xi Jinping is not expected to meet a group of US senators in Beijing next week because of the low prospects for a concrete outcome from the trip, according to experts.

The office of US Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer confirmed on Tuesday that he would lead a senate delegation to China this month, becoming the first US congressional delegation to visit China in four years.

His office said the trip would feature meetings with both government officials and business leaders, Reuters reported.

Republican Senator Mike Crapo, who is co-leading the group with Schumer, told Bloomberg earlier that the trip was planned for next week.

China has not confirmed the trip, which comes after a flurry of visits by senior US officials in recent months in an apparent effort by Washington and Beijing to step up engagement despite their growing rivalry.

Crapo said the delegation hoped to meet Xi, who skipped the G20 summit for the first time last month, dashing hopes of a highly anticipated meeting with US President Joe Biden.

But analysts said a meeting was unlikely, given the persistent tensions between the two powers and the lack of progress on sticking points following previous visits of US officials.

Einar Tangen, senior fellow at the Beijing-based Taihe Institute and founder of Asia Narratives, said the trip was not expected to lead to a “positive outcome” for Beijing.

“It is doubtful that Xi would meet Schumer. He is a China hawk who is in Beijing pushing Biden’s agenda,” Tangen said.

He said that if the delegation’s agenda remained to “pretend to engage China while justifying their beliefs and actions”, it would not add to the previous trips by other US officials.

“China is hosting them to show openness, but unless the US delegation is willing to engage in constructive dialogue, it’s just [public relations],” he said.

Since June, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, climate envoy John Kerry, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo have been to China, with both sides agreeing to maintain communications.

But little has changed on the structural issues between the two countries.

Despite some progress on resuming people-to-people exchanges and establishing economic and financial working groups, the tit-for-tat tech competition continues and military communication lines between the two countries remain stalled.

Schumer is known for his hawkish stance on Beijing and is a strong advocate of tougher measures against China to curb its hi-tech and military development.

His office said his goal for the trip was to “advance US economic and national security interests” while focusing on “the need for reciprocity in China for US businesses that will level the playing field for American workers, as well as on maintaining US leadership in advanced technologies for national security”.

In the interview with Bloomberg, Crapo said the delegation hoped to engage with Beijing to create opportunities for their conflicts to be resolved.

He added they would raise the issue of sanctions on US chip giant Micron Technology, which has been banned from key infrastructure projects in China.

The ban came after the US introduced sweeping semiconductor export controls on sales to China.

Chong Ja Ian, a US-China relations specialist at the National University of Singapore, said that for its part China was likely to use the talks to raise concerns about US tech restrictions, US activities in the South and East China seas and Taiwan.

He said it was unclear whether the delegation would get to meet the Chinese president and it would be worth noting the seniority of the officials representing China in the discussions to see “how seriously Beijing takes the visit”.

“Hosting the visit would be in line with ongoing efforts to re-establish more regular senior-level communication between the two sides. Having exchanges with the legislative branch of the US government is important,” he said.

“It is unclear to me what Xi would get out of such a meeting at this point.

“Moreover, if the meeting creates an impression of members of the congressional delegation giving in to the [Chinese Communist Party] in domestic US politics, that could create more complications for the [US-China] relationship.

“Already, there have been more senior US visits to [China] than the other way around.”

Josef Gregory Mahoney, an international relations professor at East China Normal University, said that if a meeting with Xi did take place and was positive, then it might increase chances for a Xi-Biden summit.

He said China was likely to pursue a “wait-and-see approach on how the visitors behave” before considering a higher-level meeting.

“If they demonstrate commitments to diplomatic protocol, if they avoid grandstanding and trying to embarrass their hosts, then higher-level meetings might be possible,” he said.

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