Analysts say the Biden administration provided Chinese President Xi Jinping with a significant coup by sending two high-ranking officials to Beijing on Sunday in an attempt to lessen tensions between the two countries.
Critics quickly pointed out that Sunday, June 4, marks the 34th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, in which the Chinese military killed thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators.
The State Department said Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink and Senior Director for China and Taiwan Affairs at the National Security Council, Sarah Beran, arrived in Beijing to discuss crucial issues in the bilateral relationship.
On Twitter, Republican California representative Darrell Issa raised questions about the timing of the visit.
Issa tweeted that two high-ranking officials from the Biden administration had traveled to China as the anniversary of the massacre in Tiananmen Square is remembered.
Issa, also a House Foreign Affairs Committee member, argued that the trip would only strengthen China and President Xi Jinping’s stature internationally at the expense of the United States.
According to Issa, this isn’t just a slip in foreign policy; instead, the White House and State Department gave in to Chinese demands. It was a major victory for Xi, weakening the United States even further.
He continued, saying Congress can’t turn a blind eye to this.
A second press release observing the anniversary of the events in Tiananmen Square was sent by the State Department almost two hours after the initial announcement.
The announcement said that Sunday will mark the 34th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) government used tanks to violently suppress peaceful pro-democracy protestors and bystanders in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.
It further noted that the victims’ bravery would not be forgotten and would continue to inspire those fighting for similar causes worldwide. Human rights and fundamental freedoms will remain priorities for the United States in China and worldwide.
Issa’s office has stated that the congressman will write to Secretary of State Antony Blinken to inquire about the trip to China.
According to a State Department spokesperson, Kritenbrink will start his formal meetings on Monday, where he plans to discuss human rights in the communist country.
Michael Sobolik, a fellow in Indo-Pacific Studies at the American Foreign Policy Council, responded to the press release about the China visit by asking if the trip was a joke.
Neither the State Department nor the White House responded when asked whether the Tiananmen Square Massacre would be discussed.
Since the United States shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon that toured the country earlier this year, attempts at contact between the Biden administration and Beijing have all but ceased.
Blinken’s planned trip, during which he was to meet with Xi, was scrapped after the China spy balloon incident.
China’s military activity has further tested the United States-China relationship in the South China Sea and the United States support of Taiwan.
Furthermore, Beijing is displeased with the United States for advising against equipping Russia to aid in its war in Ukraine.
CIA director William Burns covertly visited China last month in an effort to repair strained relations. While there, Burns reportedly spoke with his Chinese counterparts to stress the significance of open lines of communication in intelligence channels.