WASHINGTON - Chinese Foreign Minster Wang Yi was due in Washington on Tuesday, where he will hold talks with Secretary of State John Kerry that are expected to include the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
A Chinese diplomat said the aim of the visit would be to prepare for a summit between Chinese Premier Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama in Beijing in November.
A U.S. official, who did not want to be identified, said the situation in Hong Kong would also be addressed at a meeting between Kerry and Yi on Wednesday.
The United States has been carefully calibrating its response to pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, voicing support for peaceful protests while signaling it has little interest in seeing the situation escalate and risk a harsher crackdown by Chinese authorities.
Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters extended a blockade of Hong Kong streets on Tuesday, stockpiling supplies and erecting makeshift barricades ahead of what some fear may be a push by police to clear the roads before Chinese National Day.
On Monday, the White House said it was closely monitoring the political unrest unfolding on the streets of Hong Kong and urged security forces there to exercise restraint and also called on protesters to express their views peacefully.
It could be a tricky balancing act for Washington, especially given Beijing's transformation into a global economic powerhouse and given how inter-dependent the U.S. and Chinese economies have become since the Tiananmen Square crackdown 25 years ago.
On Monday, China warned against other countries interfering or "sending the wrong message'' to protesters.
Obama is due to travel to Beijing in November for an Asia-Pacific summit and a meeting with Xi, and the White House said the U.S. leader was likely to raise human rights issues with his counterpart.