• REUTERS

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U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will visit Japan, South Korea and Mongolia next week, the State Department said, making no mention of any stop in China that had been anticipated in foreign policy circles and reported in some media.

The State Department said on Thursday that Sherman would discuss a broad range of issues with officials in Japan, including combating the climate crisis and enhancing global health security.

It said Sherman and Japanese and South Korean counterparts would hold a joint meeting to discuss cooperation on North Korea and other issues, including climate change and the ongoing global pandemic.

She will hold further talks in Seoul before heading to Ulaanbaatar to reinforce the U.S. Mongolia Strategic Partnership, the statement said, adding that the whole trip would run from July 18-25.

“Throughout the trip, the Deputy Secretary will reaffirm the U.S. commitment to working with allies and partners to promote peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and to upholding the international rules-based order,” the statement said, language the State Department uses to refer to its efforts to push back against China’s increasingly assertive behavior.

It will be Sherman’s second trip to Asia in less than two months, after visits to Indonesia, Cambodia, and Thailand in late May and early June.

She has yet to travel to Beijing, and China and the United States have had little in the way of high-level face-to-face contact since a combative first senior diplomatic meeting under the Biden administration in March in Alaska. There, China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi harangued Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan over what he said was a hegemonic U.S. foreign policy.

On the eve of the Alaska talks, Washington took a flurry of actions directed at China, including a move to begin revoking Chinese telecoms licenses, subpoenas to multiple Chinese information technology companies over national security concerns, and updated sanctions over Hong Kong.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi questioned Blinken about whether the sanctions were announced ahead of the meeting on purpose.

On Tuesday, the U.S. government strengthened its warnings to businesses about the growing risks of having supply chain and investment links to China’s Xinjiang region, citing alleged forced labor and human rights abuses.

The U.S. Treasury has declined comment on a Financial Times report that it will impose more sanctions this week in response to China’s crackdowns in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday they were hearing that the Biden administration was preparing new sanctions, but had no details on the timing. Another source told Reuters the administration could announce a business advisory covering Hong Kong as soon as Friday.

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