President Barack Obama will send his national security advisor Susan Rice to Beijing this week, hoping to work through tensions over cyber attacks, the South China Sea and financial turmoil ahead of Xi Jinping’s visit to Washington.
The Chinese leader’s September trip has become more politically charged than usual, as Americans watch their retirement investments erode amid a broad-based global stock market sell-off.
Many economists point to a long-seen correction after years of rising equities prices, but that has not stopped blame from being placed on China.
Beijing’s recent decision to repeg the Chinese currency was a trigger for a broader correction.
Republican presidential candidates have called on Obama to cancel Xi’s state visit.
“Americans are struggling to cope with the fall in today’s markets driven in part by China’s slowing economy and the fact that they actively manipulate their economy,” said Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a statement Monday.
“Rather than honoring Chinese President Xi Jinping with an official state visit next month, President Obama should focus on holding China accountable over its increasing attempts to undermine US interests.”
“We need to see some backbone from President Obama on US-China relations.”
Tensions had been growing between Washington and Beijing, even before gyrations on the financial markets.
The White House has been alarmed by perceived Chinese territorial grabs in the South China Sea, which threaten to spark conflagrations with neighbors and disrupt global shipping.
Beijing has ignored claims to a number of ocean atolls, as it develops facilities and even stations military equipment.
China has long been blamed for cyber attacks on US commercial interests and sensitive government personnel records.
Amid this backdrop, Rice will travel to Beijing from August 28 to 29.
National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said Rice will meet senior officials to “consult on a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues.”
“She will underscore the United States’ commitment to building a more productive relationship between our two countries as well as discuss areas of difference in advance of President Xi’s state visit to the United States in September.”