EXCLUSIVE: The Biden administration is getting slammed as handing a “major coup” to Chinese President Xi Jinping after two senior officials made a trip to China on Sunday in an attempt to ease tensions between the two countries.
Critics immediately pointed out that Sunday, June 4, marks the 34th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, when the Chinese military slaughtered hundreds, possibly thousands, of pro-democracy protesters.
Daniel Kritenbrink, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, and Sarah Beran, the National Security Council’s senior director for China and Taiwan affairs, arrived in Beijing to discuss “key issues in the bilateral relationship,” the State Department said in a press release.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., called attention to the timing of the trip on Twitter.
“Is the Biden Administration sending senior officials to China as we remember the anniversary of the massacre in Tiananmen Square?” he wrote.
Issa, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Fox News Digital that the trip only benefits China and Chinese President Xi Jinping while weakening the United States’ position on the world stage.
“This is no ordinary foreign policy stumble,” he said. “It’s a concession demanded by the Chinese and granted by a White House and State Department willing to bend. It’s a major coup for Xi, and America’s position in the world just got weaker – where it matters most.”
“There’s no way the Congress can just look away and let this go,” he added.
Nearly two hours after the first press release, the State Department issued another one honoring the Tiananmen Square anniversary.
“Tomorrow, we observe the 34th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre,” the release said. “On June 4th, 1989, the Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) sent tanks into Tiananmen Square to brutally repress peaceful Chinese pro-democracy protesters and bystanders alike.”
“The victims’ bravery will not be forgotten and continues to inspire advocates for these principles around the world,” it added. “The United States will continue advocating for people’s human rights and fundamental freedoms in China and around the world.”
Issa’s office said he plans to send a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken demanding answers about the China trip.
A State Department spokesperson told Reuters that Kritenbrink’s official meetings will begin Monday, and that he would raise the issue of human rights in the communist country.
Michael Sobolik, a fellow in Indo-Pacific Studies at the American Foreign Policy Council, responded to the press release about the China visit by asking, “Is this a joke?”
Isaac Stone Fish, the CEO of Strategic Risks, which “quantifies corporate exposure to China,” and a visiting fellow at the Atlantic Council, offered a “pro-tip” on Twitter, saying, “Don’t be a senior government official visiting China on the anniversary of Tiananmen Square.”
Fox News Digital asked the State Department and the White House whether the Tiananmen Square massacre would be discussed, but neither responded.
Dialogue between the Biden administration and Beijing has been nearly dormant in recent months as attempts at interactions have been shuttered since the U.S. shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon that traversed the country earlier this year.
A previously scheduled trip by Blinken, where he was expected to meet with Xi, was canceled because of the China spy balloon incident.
The U.S.-China relationship has been further strained over China’s military activity in the South China Sea and the United States’ support of Taiwan.
Additionally, Beijing has taken umbrage after the U.S. warned China against arming Russia to help its war in Ukraine.
CIA Director William Burns secretly visited China last month in an effort to restore relations, meeting with his Chinese counterparts to emphasize “the importance of maintaining open lines of communication in intelligence channels,” according to the Financial Times, which first reported the visit.
Fox News’ Louis Casiano contributed to this report.