The United States has formally invited China’s newly reappointed foreign minister, Wang Yi, to Washington, the US State Department said on Tuesday, after Wang’s predecessor was abruptly removed from his post by Beijing.
China reappointed veteran diplomat Wang last week, replacing former rising star Qin Gang, who has not been seen for more than month – a mysterious absence after just seven months in the job that has raised questions about transparency.
China’s foreign ministry has only said Qin was off work for unspecified health reasons.
The invitation to Wang was extended on Monday during a meeting at the State Department between US 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, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told a press briefing.
“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,” Miller said.
Miller did not say if the Chinese side had accepted the invitation but added that this was Washington’s expectation.
“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,” Miller said.
A spokesperson for China’s Washington embassy said that in the “consultation” with Kritenbrink, the two sides had “candid, in-depth and constructive exchanges of views on China-US relations as well as global and regional issues of mutual interest”.
“Concerning the high-level exchanges, both side have maintained necessary communication,” the spokesperson added.
A US readout of the discussion called it “candid, substantive, and productive” and “part of ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication and responsibly manage the bilateral relationship.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Qin on June 18, on the first visit by America’s top diplomat to China in five years. The US State Department said then they held “candid, substantive, and constructive” talks, and Blinken invited Qin to Washington to continue discussions.
Blinken subsequently met Wang on the sidelines of a regional meeting in Jakarta in Qin’s absence.
Wang, 69, served as foreign minister from 2013-2022 as ties frayed with the United States to a point Beijing described as an all-time low. (SCMP)