A bipartisan group of U.S. senators hope to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a trip to China this month, two of them told NBC News, as a whirl of diplomatic activity builds expectations for a meeting later this year between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies.
“I don’t think that that’s clear yet whether it will happen,” Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said of a potential meeting between the senators and Xi. “We want to meet with a number of the officials there as well as the American business community there as well, and we would like to meet with President Xi.”
Crapo and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will lead the delegation, which also includes Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La.; Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.; John Kennedy, R-La.; and Jon Ossoff, D-Ga. They will also visit U.S. allies South Korea and Japan during the 10-day trip.
Kennedy said it was his understanding that the group would meet with Xi, who has been in power for more than a decade and extended his rule with an unprecedented third term awarded in March at a congress of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
“The main reason I’m going on this trip, aside from the fact that Sen. Schumer asked me, is because I want to meet with President Xi,” he said.
“If you meet with anyone else, it would be an overstatement to say it’s a waste of time, but it’s certainly a less prudent use of your time because President Xi has all the power — he’s the most powerful person in the country since Mao.”
No meeting with Xi has been confirmed, but the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it welcomed the delegation.
“We hope this visit will contribute to a more objective understanding of China in the U.S. Congress, increase dialogue and communication between the legislatures of our two countries, and add positive factors to the growth of China-U.S. relations,” it said in a statement Wednesday.
Schumer’s office said earlier that he and Crapo would lead the delegation to China during the Senate’s October recess, which is next week, “with the goal of advancing U.S. economic and national security interests in the region.”
It said the trip would include “meetings with government leaders and business leaders from each country and from U.S. companies operating in each country,” and that topics of discussion would include human rights, U.S. business concerns and China’s role in the international community as well as “areas for potential cooperation.”
Source : NBC News