Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi is set to meet senior US officials on Monday (27 February) and Tuesday in Washington to discuss issues of mutual concern, foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said.

Lu added that Yang is visiting the country at the invitation of the new US government. He will be the first senior Chinese official to visit the US after President Donald Trump assumed office a month ago.

The visit follows a recent telephone conversation between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Trump as well as an informal meeting of the foreign ministers of the two nations where both sides had expressed interest in forging friendlier ties.

Jinping had told Trump that cooperation between the two countries was vital and mutually beneficial.

Jia Xiudong, a research fellow with the China Institute of International Studies, told Xinhua news agency that reaffirming the tone of bilateral relations set by the two heads of state would be the topmost issue for Yang during this visit, which will coincide with the 45th anniversary of former US president Richard Nixon's ice-breaking visit to China.

The 1972 visit had laid the foundation for the establishment of formal diplomatic ties between Beijing and Washington in 1979.

Donald Trump Xi Jinping
The visit follows a recent telephone conversation between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump Reuters

Jia added that Yang, a former Chinese ambassador to Washington and former foreign minister, is most suited for the mission. In addition to pushing for deeper ties and setting a date for a Xi-Trump meeting, Yang is expected to discuss issues of trade, security as well as international issues like the nuclearisation threat in the Korean Peninsula, climate change, energy and the Syrian war.

So far, it has been unclear what policy Trump would adopt towards China. He started off his tenure by angering China by talking directly to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and denying honouring the US-adopted "One China policy", which requires the US to recognise Taiwan as part of China. However, following talks with his counterpart, Trump recently agreed to honour the policy.