Jake Sullivan to meet top Chinese diplomat as Taiwan tensions soar
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan will travel to Zurich, Switzerland, this week to meet China's top foreign policy official Yang Jiechi, according to a National Security Council spokesperson.
Why it matters: It will be the most senior-level, in-person meeting between U.S. and Chinese officials since Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken met their counterparts in Alaska in March, where a post-summit press conference devolved into a verbal sparring match.
Driving the news: The meeting comes days after the State Department condemned the Chinese military's record number of incursions into Taiwan's air defense identification zone.
- It will be the first in-person meeting since the U.S. announced a new Indo-Pacific security partnership with the U.K. and Australia, aggravating China.
- The Biden administration also announced this week that China is not meeting its commitments under the Phase One trade deal and that it will keep Trump-era tariffs in place as the U.S. re-engages Beijing in trade talks.
The big picture: President Biden spoke directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sept. 9 in an attempt to "set guardrails" on the relationship, after Chinese officials snubbed and insulted Biden's aides during lower-level talks — including climate envoy John Kerry.
- One possible item on the agenda for Sullivan's talks with Yang could be a virtual summit between Biden and Xi.
- Xi has not left China since the start of the pandemic, making an in-person meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome later this month unlikely.
Between the lines: Sullivan's meeting with Yang will be followed by visits with key U.S. allies, including NATO and EU officials in Brussels and French national security adviser Emmanuel Bonne in Paris.
Go deeper: Biden's Taiwan test