U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer arrived in China on Saturday leading a bipartisan congressional delegation and starting a series of meetings in the world’s second-largest economy amid rising tension between Washington and Beijing.
The goal of the trip to Asia, which includes stops in South Korea and Japan, is to advance U.S. economic and national security interests, and in China, the group hopes to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, U.S. officials said.
After passing a sweeping bill last year to boost competition with China in semiconductors and other technology, Schumer and Democratic committee leaders said in May they would write legislation to limit the flow of technology to China, deter it from initiating a conflict with Taiwan and tighten rules to block U.S. capital from going to Chinese companies.
Schumer “will focus on the need for reciprocity in China for U.S. businesses that will level the playing field for American workers, as well as on maintaining U.S. leadership in advanced technologies for national security”, his office said.
The trip follows visits by a series of high-level Biden administration officials, including Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in August.
The group of six senators, co-led by Republican Mike Crapo, will meet government and business leaders in the three countries they are visiting, and from U.S. companies operating in the region.
Other senators on the trip include Republicans Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy and Democrats Maggie Hassan and Jon Ossoff. The group landed at Shanghai’s Pudong airport at 2 p.m. (0600 GMT).
China welcomes Schumer’s visit and hopes it will deepen the U.S. Senate’s “objective” understanding of China and facilitate dialogue between the nations’ legislative agencies, China’s foreign ministry said this week.
The Biden administration has placed curbs on chip exports to China, saying they aim to deny it access to advanced technology that could further military advancements or rights abuses. China hit back with accusations of economic coercion.
Raimondo said in August that U.S. companies had complained to her that China has become “uninvestable”, pointing to fines, raids and other actions that made it risky to do business there. “For U.S. business in many cases, patience is running thin, and it’s time for action,” she said.