National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with a top Chinese diplomat in Malta over the weekend as part of the United States’ efforts to cool strained ties with Beijing.
Sullivan met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Li in Malta on Saturday and Sunday. Sullivan’s office said the meeting was part of ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication.
Both sides – who met earlier this year in Vienna – were said to have had a “candid, substantive, and constructive” discussion, building on talks President Biden had with President Xi Jinping in Bali, Indonesia last November.
Sullivan and Wang reportedly discussed key issues in the U.S.-China bilateral relationship, global and regional security issues, Russia’s war against Ukraine, and the Taiwan Strait, among other issues.
There were also “limited” early signs that severed military communications between the two sides may start to be restored, a senior Biden administration official said.
Chinese officials did not comment on the prospect of military-to-military communication, which were cut following an Aug. 2022 visit by former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan that enraged China.
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Sullivan’s meeting with Wang was the latest in a series of high-level discussions between U.S. and Chinese officials that come amid a string of upheavals in the Chinese government’s top ranks, including the disappearance of defense minister Li Shangfu, and wobbles in the country’s economy that have caused consternation in foreign capitals.
The United States told China it was ready to work together on counter-narcotics, AI, and climate change even as it expressed concerns over unspecified Chinese support for Russia and Beijing recently sending fighter jets across the sensitive median line of the Taiwan Strait, the U.S. official said.
Wang cautioned the United States that the Taiwan issue is the “first insurmountable red line of Sino-U.S. relations,” according to the Chinese foreign ministry statement. China claims the self-ruled island as its own territory.
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Biden this month expressed disappointment that Xi skipped a summit of Group of 20 leaders in India, but said he would “get to see him.” The next likely opportunity for Biden to hold talks with Xi is an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco in November, where U.S. aides for months have hoped to stage such a meeting.