China's Foreign Minister Formally Invited to Washington

China's Foreign Minister Formally Invited to Washington
Photo: Dan Macy

The Lede: On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department formally invited the re-appointed Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi to visit Washington, an offer previously extended to the recently removed Qin Gang whose mysterious absence and replacement has raised questions about transparency.

What We Know:

  • The invitation was extended at a meeting at the State Department between the U.S. Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink and Yang Tao, Director General of the North American and Oceania Affairs at China's Foreign Ministry.
  • A U.S. readout of the discussion between Kritenbrink and Yang called it "candid, substantive, and productive" and "part of ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication and responsibly manage the bilateral relationship." A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington said that the consultation with Kritenbrink produced "candid, in-depth, and constructive exchanges of views on China-U.S. relations as well as global and regional issues of mutual interest." The U.S. side has not yet received an answer regarding the invitation but expects the Chinese side to accept.

The Background: In the previous week, China reappointed its top diplomat Wang Yi as foreign minister, removing the outgoing Qin Gang amid a mysterious month-long absence. Qin has not been seen since then and there has been no mention of why he was removed from the position. Wang’s return as foreign minister comes amid a recent string of high-level meetings between U.S. and Chinese officials. Wang had served as foreign minister before as Qin’s predecessor. Before his re-appointment for the role he was the director of China’s Foreign Affairs Commission Office. He currently occupies both roles. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Qin in Beijing on June 18. This was the first visit by America's top diplomat to China in five years. Blinken also met with Wang on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Jakarta in Qin's absence.

Likely Outcomes:

  • Given the recent string of high-level visits by U.S. officials to Beijing and the expressed desire on both sides to restore dialogue and communication, there is a high chance that Wang will accept the invitation to visit Washington. Wang’s return to the position of foreign minister offers an air of stability and a return to a past state of Chinese foreign policy as uncertainty and tensions have dominated the U.S. outlook in the Indo-Pacific region in recent years.
  • If the previous high-level meetings between U.S. and Chinese officials are any indication, there may not be any significant breakthroughs in the tense bilateral relationship. The ratcheting up of measures and counter-measures against each other has not abated. The U.S. continues to pursue increased curbs on semiconductor trade with China and has been increasingly present in the Indo-Pacific. China has continued its posturing toward Taiwan and introduced export restrictions on critical metals. Progress in U.S.-China relations will likely come only with de-escalation from the current state of affairs. Until then, these high-level talks will keep these tensions simmering and help keep them from coming to a boil.


"In the meeting yesterday, we extended the invitation that had previously been made to foreign minister Qin Gang and made clear that invitation did transfer over. We certainly expect that it is something that they would accept and is a trip that we expect to happen, but we have not yet scheduled a date.” - Matthew Miller, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State

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US says formally invites new Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi to Washington (Reuters)