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China’s top diplomat embarks on US visit amid tensions under Trump

State councillor Yang Jiechi will be the first Chinese official to visit US and hold talks with the new administration after Trump assumed presidency in January. 

world Updated: Feb 28, 2017 21:39 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
One-China policy

State Councilor Yang Jiechi could well become China’s “point man” in dealings with the US because of his rich experience; he was China’s former envoy to the US and had extensively dealt with US diplomats during his time as the foreign minister. (AP File)

China’s top diplomat has begun a two-day visit to the US amid rising tensions between the two countries under the new presidency of Donald Trump over the “one-China” policy, the South China Sea situation and the increasing unease in the Korean Peninsula.

State councillor Yang Jiechi will be the first Chinese official to visit US and hold talks with the new administration after Trump assumed presidency in January. 

Yang could well become China’s “point man” in dealings with the US because of his rich experience; he was China’s former envoy to the US and had extensively dealt with US diplomats during his time as the foreign minister. 

Yang’s visit to Washington will coincide with the 45th anniversary of US President Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit to China, considered as the “ice-breaking” trip in the complex bilateral relations between the two largest economies in the world. Seven years after that visit, Beijing and Washington officially established diplomatic ties. 

“Yang’s visit will coincide with the 45th anniversary of President Richard Nixon's ice-breaking visit to China in 1972, which paved the way for Beijing and Washington to officially establish diplomatic ties in 1979,” official news agency Xinhua said in a report announcing the visit. 

“Yang will have an extensive range of topics to discuss with the U.S. officials but the foremost would be to reaffirm the tone of bilateral relations set by the two heads of state in their phone conversation,” Jia Xiudong from the China Institute of International Studies told Xinhua. 

“Despite twists and turns over the past four decades, China-US relations have progressed ahead as both the Republican and Democratic parties understand the importance of the relationship,” Jia said. 

During Yang's tour, China and US will have exchanges on trade, security and international issues, on which Trump may take policies different from the Obama administration, according to Jia. 

Earlier this month, President Xi Jinping and Trump spoke over phone, which was followed up with a meeting between foreign minister Wang Yi and US secretary of state Rex Tillerson at the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting. 

According to Xinhua, Trump had “aggravated” China by taking a call from President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, which Beijing sees as a breakaway region, and saying that the One-China policy was open for negotiation. 

Following the conversation with Trump over phone, Xi had said he appreciated Trump “…for stressing that the US government adheres to the One-China policy”. 

“China will work with the United States to enhance communication and cooperation so that bilateral ties can advance in a sound and stable manner and yield more fruits to benefit the two peoples and people of all countries in the world”, Xi said.