China Complains About Senior Biden Official Before Key Visit to Soothe Tensions

China said it has lodged fresh diplomatic complaints against the U.S. deputy secretary of state over a "negative trend against China" ahead of the senior official's visit to calm tensions with Beijing.

Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said on Thursday that "solemn representations" were made to U.S. and Japanese officials in Beijing, Tokyo and Washington, D.C., following a bilateral meeting between Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Mori.

Mori hosted Sherman—number two at the State Department—in Tokyo on Tuesday, with a subsequent joint statement directly indicting China for its attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China seas.

The officials also expressed concern over China's policies in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, and stressed the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

The litany of charges has been consistently laid at Beijing's feet since the Biden administration took office, with the U.S. successful in persuading allies to express collective concern. China has pushed back against all accusations of wrongdoing.

Beijing expressed its "strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to the negative trend against China," Zhao said during a regular Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefing.

"I want to emphasize that Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang are all China's internal affairs, which allow no interference by any external forces," he said.

Zhao added: "With regard to maritime issues, China remains firmly resolved to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, and stands ready to properly manage differences with concerned countries through consultation and negotiation."

"Any intervention by external forces in the East China Sea and South China Sea under any pretext will only lead to unnecessary interference in regional peace and tranquility, and runs counter to the interests of countries in the region," he said.

Sherman will be ready to hear similar rhetoric when she meets senior Chinese diplomats in the port city of Tianjin on Sunday. She will be the highest-ranking U.S. official to set foot in China since the Biden administration took office. Her visit comes amid strained U.S.-China ties that were exacerbated by an American-led condemnation of Chinese state-sponsored hacking on Monday.

Zhao said Sherman's two-day visit was being arranged at Washington's request. He confirmed she would "hold talks" with Xie Feng, a vice minister in charge of China-U.S. relations, before meeting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi

"China will make clear to the U.S. its principled position on developing China-U.S. relations; its firm attitude to safeguarding its sovereignty, security and development interests; and demand that the U.S. stop interfering in China's internal affairs and harming China's interests," Zhao said.

Asked why the meetings were taking place in Tianjin, which is about 75 miles southeast of Beijing, Zhao said the decision was made with epidemic prevention in mind.

Sherman's visit to Asia includes stops in Japan, South Korea and Mongolia. Her China visit was not announced as part of the original itinerary, suggesting there were ongoing negotiations over who the Chinese government wanted her to meet when in the country.

Deputy Secretary of State Visits Tokyo
Japan's Deputy Foreign Minister Takeo Mori (C) hosts South Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun (L) and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman (R) for trilateral talks in Tokyo, Japan, on July 21, 2021. Kazuhiro NOGI / POOL/AFP via Getty Images