According to people familiar with the initiative, Beijing is pushing for a meeting of its top diplomat with senior aides to President Biden, who is embroiled in tensions with China and troubled relations.
Beijing raised the idea in December of sending Yang Jiechi, a member of the Politburo, the Communist Party’s top decision-making body, to Washington. President Xi Jinping immediately congratulated Mr. Biden on his election victory. The proposal was later made through letters from Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qi Tiankai and talks with the mediator.
Beijing is planning a different message for Mr. Yang to bring to Washington, which he delivered during the Trump administration, when trade was Washington’s priority. Now, with Mr Biden emphasizing climate change and epidemics, Mr Yang plans to focus on these issues as well as train at the initial meeting between Messrs.
Chinese officials have called a meeting on access to the back channel, but Biden has not made a formal request to the national security team, which is currently based only at the White House, and other government agencies.
One of those familiar with the discussions said that in view of the deep divisions between the two countries and the rejection of the offer of a face-to-face meeting by Beijing, Biden had been careful to engage with the Chinese administration.