US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chinese Politburo member Yang Jiechi shake hands following a meeting in Washington in November 2018. — AFP/VNA File Photo
ABOARD USS WASP — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet a top Chinese official in Hawaii on Wednesday in the powers' first senior-level talks since tensions skyrocketed over the coronavirus pandemic, reports said.
Pompeo will hold talks with senior Chinese foreign policy official Yang Jiechi, The South China Morning Post said, quoting an unnamed source.
Politico and CNN also reported on plans for the meeting. CNN said it would take place at Hickam Air Force Base next to Pearl Harbor.
The State Department did not comment on the reports.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that "more information will be given when available," saying only that the two countries were "maintaining communications via diplomatic channels," according to the Global Times.
It will be the most senior in-person meeting between the two nations since January when Vice Premier Liu He met President Donald Trump at the White House to sign the first phase of a deal aimed at ending soaring trade tensions.
New virus cases
China on Tuesday reported another 27 domestically transmitted coronavirus cases in Beijing, where a fresh cluster linked to a wholesale food market has sparked WHO concern and prompted a huge trace and test programme.
The new cases bring the number of infections confirmed in the Chinese capital over the last five days to 106, as city officials locked down more than 20 communities in the city and tested tens of thousands of people.
All indoor sports and entertainment venues in the city were shut down on Monday, and some other cities across China warned they would quarantine those arriving from Beijing.
The National Health Commission also reported four new domestic infections in Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, plus another in southwestern Sichuan province.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said the new cluster was a cause for concern, given Beijing's size and connectivity.
"A cluster like this is a concern and it needs to be investigated and controlled - and that is exactly what the Chinese authorities are doing," WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan said. AFP