Sep 17, 2023 - World

Top Biden adviser meets with Chinese foreign minister in effort to cool tensions

Jake Sullivan and Wang Yi

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Photo: Handout/Chinese MFA

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Malta this weekend.

Why it matters: The meeting is part of the Biden administration's efforts to cool down tensions with China. It could also help lay the groundwork for a potential meeting between President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping at November's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco.

  • Wang and Xi are not expected at the UN General Assembly this week, but Biden administration officials hope Xi will attend the APEC summit.
  • The Malta meeting was reported first by Bloomberg.
  • The meeting was a follow-up to a meeting Sullivan and Yi held last May in Vienna.

What they're saying: "The two sides discussed key issues in the U.S.-China bilateral relationship, global and regional security issues, Russia's war against Ukraine, and cross-Strait issues, among other topics," the White House readout of the call said.

  • A senior Biden administration official later told reporters that Sullivan stressed China should not provide assistance to Russia for the war in Ukraine.
  • Sullivan also raised concerns about Chinese military activity around Taiwan and urged Beijing to solve any differences through peaceful means, the official added.
  • "The two sides committed to maintain this strategic channel of communication and to pursue additional high-level engagement and consultations in key areas between the United States and the People's Republic of China in the coming months,” the readout of the call said.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the "two sides conducted candid, substantive and constructive strategic communication focusing on stabilizing and improving Sino-US relations."

  • "Wang Yi emphasized that the Taiwan issue is the first insurmountable red line in Sino-US relations," the ministry added.
  • "China's development has strong endogenous driving force and follows inevitable historical logic. It cannot be stopped. The Chinese people's legitimate right to development cannot be deprived."

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Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.

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