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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) walks to the Senate chamber

Schumer, bipartisan group heading to China this week

News: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will travel to China later this week as part of a bipartisan three-country swing through Asia, according to his office.

The significance of Schumer’s visit cannot be overstated. The New York Democrat is a longtime China hawk, and tensions between Washington and Beijing are sky-high on a range of issues. Schumer’s office told us that his goal is to “advance U.S. economic and national security interests in the region.”

Schumer will lead the trip alongside Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. The group — which includes Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), John Kennedy (R-La.) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) — will also visit South Korea and Japan.

Interestingly, the delegation is hoping to secure a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, we’re told. As of this writing, Schumer’s office would only say that the senators plan to meet with “government officials and business leaders from each country, and from U.S. companies operating in each country.”

We’re told that Schumer plans to raise several issues during his meetings in China, some of which are central to the Senate’s recent work on China policy. Schumer led the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act, which aims to boost domestic semiconductor manufacturing as a way to better compete with China. Schumer wants to pass another massive — and more comprehensive — package to counter China next year.

Schumer also plans to bring up China’s human-rights record, its role in the ongoing fentanyl crisis in the United States and its foreign policy — as well as “areas for potential cooperation,” according to the New York Democrat’s office. The latter has been a big focus recently for the Biden administration.

The United States has declared that the Chinese government is committing genocide against the Uyghur Muslim minority in the Xinjiang region. China’s increasingly aggressive posture in the South China Sea and toward Taiwan has driven efforts by the West to invest in new deterrence strategies in the Indo-Pacific.

Earlier this year, three top Biden administration officials — Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo — traveled to China with similar objectives.

The group will depart for the region sometime after the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) funeral in San Francisco on Thursday. The Senate is scheduled to be in recess next week.

— Andrew Desiderio

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