By Joe Cash
BEIJING (Reuters) -China’s Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao will meet U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai while visiting the United States, his ministry confirmed on Thursday.
Wang and Raimondo will meet on Thursday, Shu Jueting, Chinese commerce ministry spokesperson, told a regular briefing in Beijing.
Sources told Reuters the meeting would be in Washington, which would make it the first cabinet-level meeting in the U.S. capital between American and Chinese officials of the Biden administration.
Wang has traveled to the U.S. for the 2023 APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting, in Detroit from Thursday to Friday, where he will meet Tai.
“The Chinese side will exchange views on China-U.S. relations and issues of common concern,” Shu said.
The Commerce Department and the U.S. Trade Representatives office have not yet confirmed the meetings and did not respond to requests for comment on the Chinese spokesperson’s statement.
On Wednesday, White House spokesperson John Kirby said discussions regarding Tai’s meeting plans were continuing and that the Biden administration was pursuing a more productive relationship with China. On Wednesday, Tai told the South China Morning Post that she was “hoping” to see Wang at the APEC gathering.
On Monday, Wang met representatives of American firms in Shanghai, including Johnson & Johnson, 3M, Dow, Merck, and Honeywell, according to the Ministry of Commerce, telling them that “China will continue to welcome U.S.-funded enterprises to develop in China and achieve win-win results”.
China on Sunday declared U.S. chip manufacturer Micron a national security risk, banning the firm from selling its memory chips to key domestic industries.
The ban followed a series of raids on American consultancies operating in China.
Wang’s trip to the U.S. comes after Group of Seven (G7) leaders met in Hiroshima, at which U.S. President Joe Biden and other G7 leaders took aim at China over “economic coercion” and said they would “de-risk” without “decoupling” from the world’s second-largest economy in everything from chips to minerals.
“China hopes the G7 will not abuse trade and investment restrictions while saying that they will not seek to decouple from the country,” Shu said.
Wang this month met U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns in Beijing, amid speculation about a visit from top U.S. officials after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a trip in February after the U.S. shot down a Chinese spy balloon that flew over sensitive military sites.
Raimondo, Blinken, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have all expressed interest in visiting China.
(Reporting by Joe Cash and Beijing Newsroom; additional reporting by David Lawder in Detroit; Editing by William Maclean, Robert Birsel)