Schumer notes ‘serious engagement’ with China’s Xi during Beijing visit

By Antoni Slodkowski and Laurie Chen

BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday there had been “serious engagement” during a meeting between a visiting U.S. bipartisan congressional delegation and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The visit aims to advance U.S. economic and national security interests ahead of a potential summit between Xi and U.S. President Joe Biden next month.

The United States and China are at odds over issues from Taiwan to trade, fentanyl and human rights. Biden has taken steps to restrict China’s access to sensitive U.S. technology while at the same time seeking to keep communication channels open.

“There was serious engagement with President Xi and others,” Schumer said during a briefing at the Beijing residence of U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns.

“We need to get results,” Schumer said, adding that “there seems to be a difference” in China’s current posture compared to previous engagement with U.S. officials.

The United States last week announced actions against Chinese companies and individuals as it targets the trafficking of the deadly drug fentanyl, a major sticking point in U.S.-China relations.

Schumer and other senators on the visit said they pressed Chinese officials on the issue.

Schumer said he “asked Xi to appoint a senior official on the China side” responsible for fentanyl, adding “they said they would look into that”.

Republican Mike Crapo, co-leader of the visit, said the meetings had been “remarkably successful”.

“We were candid and frank but respectful,” he told journalists. “We want the engagement to continue.”

Schumer said on Monday he urged Xi to support Israel after Saturday’s deadly attacks by Hamas, adding he was “disappointed” that Beijing showed “no sympathy” for the country over the weekend.

In response, China’s foreign ministry urged “relevant parties” to end hostilities and advocated “implementing the two-state solution”.

During Monday’s meeting, Xi said “competition and confrontation are not in line with the trend of the times”, according to a Chinese state media readout.

Schumer’s visit to Asia also includes stops in South Korea and Japan.

(Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski; Writing by Laurie Chen; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Nick Macfie)