The White House said Thursday it supports a bipartisan Senate delegation's trip next week to China, at a time when Washington and Beijing are seeking to arrange a face-to-face meeting between their presidents in November.
The delegation will be led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, with his office saying earlier this week the trip, which will also take them to Japan and South Korea, is aimed at "advancing U.S. economic and national security interests in the region."
Asked about the upcoming trip during a press briefing, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said "we certainly support their trip to the region" and the administration of President Joe Biden has been in touch with Schumer's office.
The delegation of six senators, comprising three from the Democratic Party, which controls the upper chamber, and three Republicans, will hold meetings with government and business leaders in the three Asian countries, Schumer's office said Tuesday.
Schumer, a Democrat from New York, 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.
It added that Schumer, a frequent critic of Chinese economic policies, is hoping to have "constructive discussions on critical issues," including Beijing's position on human rights as well as the Asian power's role in the international community.
The trip, which has been welcomed by China, is the latest in a series of high-level communications between the two countries, although they have a relationship fraught with tensions over almost all economic and diplomatic issues.
Biden will chair the leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in November in San Francisco. The United States and China are exploring the possibility of the first one-on-one talks in a year between Biden and Xi on the sidelines of the APEC summit.