State Dept. Is Sending Its Top Diplomat for East Asia to China

The top U.S. diplomat for East Asia will travel to China on Sunday, the State Department announced, just days after President Biden met with the leaders of Japan and the Philippines in Washington as part of a broad diplomatic outreach in the region to counter China’s aggression.

Daniel J. Kritenbrink, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, will travel with Sarah Beran, Mr. Biden’s top China adviser on the National Security Council. They will be in China until Tuesday, meeting with officials “as part of ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication and to responsibly manage competition,” according to a statement from the State Department.

China’s moves in the Indo-Pacific region were a focus at the White House this week during a three-day state visit by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan that ended with a first-ever three-way summit with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Philippines. That nation has borne the brunt of China’s intimidation campaign in the South China Sea.

Tensions between China and the United States have recently increased amid concern that China might begin a conflict over Taiwan, and because the United States is treaty-bound to defend the Philippines.

In a meeting at the State Department on Friday, Enrique Manalo, the foreign secretary of the Philippines, said that “China’s escalation of its harassment” continued to take a toll on the country, recently injuring four Filipino seamen. Also present at the meeting were Antony J. Blinken, the secretary of state; Lloyd J. Austin III, the secretary of defense; Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser; and their three counterparts from the Philippines.

In the past several years, Japan has moved closer to the United States on countering China by increasing military spending and siding with Washington in global diplomacy on the world stage. That has included standing with Ukraine in its war against Russia, while China reaffirms ties with Russia.

The last high-level U.S. official to make a trip to China was Janet L. Yellen, the treasury secretary, who returned from Beijing this month with little to show for four days of top-level economic meetings.

Mr. Biden concluded the Thursday meeting with his counterparts from Japan and the Philippines by saying that America’s commitment to their defense was not in question.

“When we stand as one,” he said, “we are able to forge a better peace for all.”

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