Update 7/15/21 1:05 PM EST: The State Department released an itinerary of Sherman’s trip that does not include China
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is reportedly headed to China next week in what is seen as the first step towards a potential summit between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In June, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the White House was considering setting up a Biden-Xi meeting. He suggested the two leaders could meet on the sidelines of the G 20 summit that will be held in Italy this October.
An unnamed source told The South China Morning Post that Sherman will meet with Xie Feng, China’s foreign vice-minister. The two diplomats are expected to discuss the possibility of a meeting between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
A Blinken-Wang meeting would be another step towards a Biden-Xi summit. Blinken and Wang held talks in Alaska back in March. Blinken opened the meeting by accusing China of threatening the so-called “rules-based order,” and things quickly fell apart from there, putting on display the sorry state of US-China relations.
The Alaska summit dampened any hopes that there could be a “reset” in US-China relations with the Biden administration. President Biden has continued the hardline China policies of his predecessor, and his Pentagon has identified China as its top “pacing threat.”
Sherman’s visit will come as Biden’s top Asia official on the National Security Council, Kurt Campbell, is wrapping up his review that will provide recommendations for US policies in that part of the world. In May, Campbell said the era of US “engagement” with China is over. He said the “dominant paradigm” of the US-China relationship is going to be competition.