US Treasury Secretary Lew to visit Beijing next week for meeting with new Chinese leaders

WASHINGTON – Jacob Lew will travel to China next week for his first overseas trip as U.S. Treasury secretary, underscoring the importance of the nations’ economic relationship.

Lew will meet with officials in President Xi Jinping’s administration on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Treasury Department said Thursday. On Thursday, Xi capped his rise to China’s leadership by adding the largely ceremonial title of president.

China is the largest holder of U.S. Treasury debt, and the U.S. imports more from China than any other nation. Tensions have flared over the Obama administration’s concerns that China has undervalued its currency to gain an unfair trade advantage.

The United States has also pressed China to crack down on cyberattacks on U.S. officials and companies.

Treasury says Lew will discuss opportunities for U.S. workers and businesses.

The White House said Thursday that President Barack Obama telephoned Xi on Thursday to congratulate him on his new position.

“The president underscored his firm commitment to increasing practical co-operation to address Asia’s and the world’s most pressing economic and security challenges,” the White House said in a statement.

The White House said that Obama discussed Lew’s trip next week with Xi and also an upcoming visit that Secretary of State John Kerry will make to China.

“The president highlighted the threat to the United States, its allies and the region from North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs,” the White House said.