Wendy Sherman, candidate for assistant secretary of state, testifies during her confirmation hearing for the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee in the Dirksen building on Wednesday, March 3, 2021.

Tom Williams | CQ Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – Assistant Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will travel to China next week to meet with Chinese officials, the State Department said on Wednesday.

Sherman, the country’s second senior diplomat, is expected to raise a number of U.S. concerns with Secretary of State Wang Yi and other officials in the northeastern port city of Tianjin.

The announcement came days after the United States, along with NATO and EU allies, formally blamed China for the brazen attack on the Microsoft Exchange server, which became public in March. Microsoft quickly identified the group behind the hack as a relatively unknown Chinese spy network called Hafnium.

Beijing has previously denied allegations of cyber espionage.

The State Department said Sherman’s talks with Chinese officials “are part of an ongoing US effort to have open exchanges with officials from the People’s Republic of China to advance US interests and values ​​and to responsibly manage the relationship.”

“The Vice Secretary will discuss areas where we have serious concerns about the actions of the PRC and areas where our interests coincide,” the statement added.

Sherman’s trip to China marks the second time the world’s two largest economies have held high-level face-to-face meetings since President Joe Biden took office.

In March, Foreign Minister Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with Chinese officials in Alaska. During the meeting, both sides exchanged barbs over China’s activities in the South China Sea, human rights violations and the coronavirus pandemic.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (2nd R), along with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan (R), speaks to Yang Jiechi (2nd L), director of the Central Commission’s Foreign Affairs Office, and Wang Yi (L), of China Foreign Affairs Minister at the opening session of the U.S.-China talks at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska on March 18, 2021.

FREDERIC J. BRAUN | AFP | Getty Images

Tensions between Beijing and Washington increased under the Trump administration, which sparked a trade war and worked to ban Chinese tech companies from doing business in the United States.

Biden, who spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping last month, previously said his approach to China would differ from that of his predecessor in that he would work more closely with allies to step up resistance against Beijing.

Following the meetings in China, Sherman will travel to Oman on Tuesday to meet with Deputy Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalifa Al Harthy.