Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, is expected to lead a bipartisan delegation of six senators on a trip to China next week, the latest in a series of high-level visits by U.S. officials to Beijing.
The lawmakers are expected to hold meetings with Chinese government and business leaders and discuss a number of contentious issues that have raised tensions between Washington and Beijing in recent months.
The delegation plans to ask Chinese leaders about human rights violations, including China’s crackdown on ethnic minorities, and its role as the top source of fentanyl and fentanyl-related products that are fueling an epidemic of overdoses in the United States. An aide to Mr. Schumer also said that the senators planned to raise concerns related to global competition and what many of them considered China’s unfair business and trade practices, Beijing’s role in the international community and potential areas for cooperation.
The trip, details of which were reported last month, comes during a weeklong Senate recess and will also include stops in Japan and South Korea. It takes place at a challenging moment in the U.S.-China relationship, as the Biden administration tries to reduce the country’s reliance on China and make it harder for Beijing to gain access to advanced technology that could be used to fuel its military ambitions.
At the same time, President Biden has been sending a stream of high-level dignitaries to meet with Chinese leaders in an effort to ameliorate fraying relations, including Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
The Senate delegation is straddling the same divide as they try to engage with Chinese leaders while many of them, including Mr. Schumer, are encouraging the Biden administration’s efforts to take a tougher stance on China.
The lead Republican on the trip, Senator Michael D. Crapo of Idaho, told Bloomberg News this week that the delegation was exploring the possibility of meeting with President Xi Jinping of China. Mr. Xi met with leaders of Congress, including Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader at the time, and Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada and then the minority leader, during a state visit to Washington in 2015.
Mr. Crapo is also expected to question Chinese leaders on the country’s investigation of the semiconductor firm Micron Technology, which is based in Idaho and building a chip factory in New York, according to Bloomberg. In April, China’s government said it was initiating a cybersecurity review of Micron’s chips. In May, Beijing barred companies that handle critical information from buying Micron products.
Joining Mr. Schumer and Mr. Crapo on the trip are Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy of Louisiana, both Republicans, and Senators Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Jon Ossoff of Georgia, who are Democrats.