U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will meet with China's top economic policy chief He Lifeng for two days in San Francisco starting Thursday to discuss bilateral issues as well as potential areas for cooperation on global challenges, a senior official said.
The talks will take place just before Yellen hosts a meeting of finance ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and days ahead of a potential summit between the presidents of the United States and China.
The senior Treasury official said the United States is hoping to establish a "more common understanding about the principles that guide the bilateral economic relationship" through the secretary's discussions with He, a Chinese vice premier.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Yellen will convey "serious concerns" about China's "unfair" practices such as market barriers facing foreign companies, noting that the United States is seeking "healthy economic competition that benefits both sides but that healthy competition requires a level playing field."
She will also raise aspects of the U.S.-China economic relationship that affect national security and look for areas where the two nations can cooperate on global challenges such as climate change, the official said.
In the run-up to a potential sit-down between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the APEC leaders' meeting, senior officials of the world's two major powers have increased direct contacts thorough multiple channels.
Last week, the State Department announced U.S. climate envoy John Kerry would make a four-day trip through Tuesday to the Sunnylands estate in California for talks with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua.
Yellen visited Beijing in July and had hours of discussions with He, Xi's top economic adviser. The two now lead the economic and financial working groups that Washington and Beijing launched in September to facilitate a frank exchange of views.
The official said the United States wants to make sure that it has "a more robust connection" with China so that their relationship will not be "vulnerable to shocks" and they can avoid miscalculation.
Biden and Xi previously met one-on-one in November last year for about three hours in Bali, Indonesia, during a Group of 20 summit.
Even as the United States and China double down on trade restrictions over national security concerns and frequently exchange barbs over issues such as Taiwan, they have signaled a shared interest in easing long-running tensions in recent weeks.
China has yet to confirm Xi's attendance at the upcoming APEC summit, but the White House confirmed last week that the two countries have agreed "in principle" on a meeting between their leaders in San Francisco.
Biden is slated to travel to the U.S. West Coast city on Nov. 14.