Schumer Leads Delegation to China, Meets with Xi

Schumer Leads Delegation to China, Meets with Xi
Senator Chuck Schumer

The Lede: Chinese President Xi Jinping met with a U.S. congressional delegation on Monday led by Senator Chuck Schumer. The delegation is on a trip to China, which started over the weekend and also includes visits to South Korea and Japan as the countries work to manage tensions and rivalries in the Indo-Pacific region. 

What We Know:

  • The U.S. delegation met Shanghai Communist Party secretary Chen Jining upon landing in the city on Saturday. On Monday, the group of senators met with Xi, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, minister of commerce Wang Wentao, and chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Zhao Leji.
  • Schumer spoke about fair business access for U.S. firms in China and regional stability. He also raised the issue of China’s role in the proliferation of fentanyl in the U.S., as well as China’s response to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 
  • Other members of the congressional delegation are Republican Senators Mike Crapo of Idaho, Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy of Louisiana, as well as Democrats Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, and Jon Ossoff of Georgia. The delegation will also visit Japan and South Korea.

The Background: This congressional delegation visit to China follows high-level visits by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, and climate envoy John Kerry this year. The White House is working to arrange a meeting between Xi and Biden next month on the sidelines of the APEC Summit in San Francisco. Neither side has confirmed a meeting yet. 

Likely Outcomes:

  • Like the many other visits by U.S. officials to China in recent months, this one has not produced meaningful policy changes or developments, but rather extends the face-to-face dialogue between the two superpowers. While it serves that purpose, the security and commercial tensions have continued to ratchet up. The Chinese side likely appreciates the efforts by the U.S. to elevate in-person communications between leaders, but will probably want to see some policy results soon. Beijing may have a long-term perspective, but some tangible progress in the near term would signal that this has been more than just talk. 
  • All eyes will be on the probable November meeting between Biden and Xi in San Francisco. At the very least, the two countries may better establish the contours of their competitive rivalry to avoid severely damaging relations further. This may include increased clarity regarding trade and business policies. Progress on security and military matters may be more elusive.   


“We need reciprocity. That means that the American companies are able to compete as freely in China as Chinese companies are able to compete in America. Our delegation is clear that we do not seek a confrontation with China, but we will remain steadfast in our commitment to promoting stability in the region, freedom and democratic principles and vigorously defend our values.” – Chuck Schumer, Democratic Senator from New York and Senate Majority Leader

"How China and the United States get along with each other in the face of a world of change and turmoil will determine the future and destiny of mankind. I have said many times, including to several presidents, that we have 1,000 reasons to improve China-US relations, but not one reason to ruin them.” – Xi Jinping, president of China

“Congress has traditionally been the most hawkish towards China. A trip will not solve the problems, but it will improve the atmosphere, at least for the time being.” – Yun Sun, director of the China program at the Stimson Center

“In some cases, legislators may have better rapport with foreign officials on a personal level, or have insight on Congress’ potential role in the resolution of a contested issue.” – Ryan Scoville, law professor at Marquette University

Good Reads:

Xi-Schumer Meeting Raises Hopes of Smoother U.S.-China Relations (NYT)

Xi tells top senator US-China relations impact 'destiny of mankind' (AFP)

US senators defy backlash at home to test China’s engagement first-hand (SCMP)

China, US need not go head to head, President Xi Jinping tells senators, in strongest sign he may head to Apec summit (SCMP)

Top US senator Schumer meets Chinese foreign minister (France24)