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Chinese leaders forge ties with Senators

Following the conclusion of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue this morning, senior Chinese leaders met with several congressmen at the Capitol building to expand their relationships with the United States beyond the executive branch. Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Dai Binggou met on Wednesday morning with Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), ...

Following the conclusion of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue this morning, senior Chinese leaders met with several congressmen at the Capitol building to expand their relationships with the United States beyond the executive branch.

Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Dai Binggou met on Wednesday morning with Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR). The group talked about a range of topics, including the U.S.-China trade imbalance, the North Korean nuclear crisis, Iran, and the outcomes of this week's dialogue, which brought together hundreds of U.S. and Chinese officials for dozens of meetings in Washington.

Following the conclusion of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue this morning, senior Chinese leaders met with several congressmen at the Capitol building to expand their relationships with the United States beyond the executive branch.

Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Dai Binggou met on Wednesday morning with Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR). The group talked about a range of topics, including the U.S.-China trade imbalance, the North Korean nuclear crisis, Iran, and the outcomes of this week’s dialogue, which brought together hundreds of U.S. and Chinese officials for dozens of meetings in Washington.

The meeting was the first official event for the Senate’s brand new "U.S.-China Working Group," an informal organization Kirk and Lieberman are setting up to provide a way for senators to interact directly with Chinese officials.

"Across the board, the U.S. and China continue to grow interdependent every day and we need a nuanced policy that reflects this 21st century reality," Kirk said in a statement. "At the same time, we need to create a space for senators to hold open and frank dialogue with Chinese leaders on areas of disagreement, especially Iran."

"From Iran and North Korea to democracy and human rights, the Senate U.S.-China Working Group will provide a valuable forum for meaningful discussions and to build habits of trust and cooperation with our Chinese friends," said Lieberman.

The group already has plans to meet with People’s Liberation Army Chief of the General Staff Chen Bingde when he visits Washington next week.

Kirk has a long record of working directly with the Chinese government. In fact, he recently returned from a fact-finding trip to the Horn of Africa where he visited a Chinese naval ship conducting anti-piracy operations. His report on that trip is here

In 2005, Kirk, then a representative, started the House’s version of the U.S.-China working group with Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA). On Wednesday morning, the House group met with the other Chinese official leading the overall dialogue, Vice Premier Wang Qishan. The House group is now led by Larsen and Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA).

"I was most intrigued by Premier Wang’s comments that China’s export orientation was a thing of the past," Larsen told The Cable. "It seems China’s leadership is, in fact, serious about rebalancing its economy to depend less on exports and more on consumer demand."

Dai also met with Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and John McCain (R-AZ) on Tuesday afternoon at the Capitol.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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