U.S. President Joe Biden and national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi in Washington on Oct. 27 in a move to keep high-level bilateral talks open amid tense relations.
The talks followed State Secretary Antony Blinken’s meeting with the Chinese foreign minister, who was on a three-day visit to Washington, which could set the stage for a possible summit between President Biden and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping next month.
The White House stated that Mr. Biden emphasized during his meeting with Mr. Wang the need for both sides to “manage competition in the relationship responsibly” and “maintain open lines of communication.”
Mr. Biden underscored that “the United States and China must work together to address global challenges,” according to a readout issued by the White House.
The president also expressed his condolences on the passing of former Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
Later in the day, Mr. Wang met with Mr. Sullivan for what the White House described as “candid, constructive, and substantive discussions” of key issues in the U.S-China bilateral relationship.
The topics of discussion included the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, Russia’s war against Ukraine, and cross-strait issues, the White House stated.
During the meeting, Mr. Sullivan raised concerns over “China’s dangerous and unlawful actions in the South China Sea”—where tensions have been rising over a territorial dispute between China and coastal nations—and emphasized the need to maintain peace across the Taiwan Strait.
“The two sides reaffirmed their desire to maintain this strategic channel of communication and to pursue additional high-level diplomacy,” it stated, including working together towards a meeting between President Biden and Mr. Xi in San Francisco in November.
US Reiterates Need to Revive Military Channels
Mr. Wang’s visit marked the first by a Chinese foreign minister to Washington since 2018, a development the White House believes could pave the way for “greater two-way diplomatic exchanges” between the two geopolitical rivals.
Senior U.S. administration officials, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity on Oct. 28, said the two sides agreed on the need to “maintain open lines of communication on a full range of issues.”
According to them, Mr. Blinken had used the sit-down with Mr. Wang to press on the need to resume military-to-military channels between the two countries, a matter he had previously raised during his meeting with Mr. Xi in Beijing in June.
“We both have a profound stake in avoiding miscommunication and miscalculation,” one of the officials told reporters.
Mr. Blinken also raised concerns about the Chinese military’s actions in the South China Sea, citing an “unsafe intercept” of a U.S. bomber by a Chinese fighter jet over the South China Sea on Oct. 24, and the recent collisions between Chinese and Philippine vessels in the disputed waters.
“I think the events even just in the past week on China’s unsafe intercept [of] a U.S. aircraft just underscored the importance of being able to talk to each other at working levels as well as at senior levels,” the official said.
The CCP has been resistant to U.S. efforts to reopen communication lines between their military officials, despite U.S. officials stating it’s crucial to prevent a potential flare-up.
According to the officials, U.S. sanctions against former Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu had been “an ostensible reason” for the CCP’s reluctance to resume military communication.
“Now that Li Shangfu is no longer in that position, we are again, of course, pressing for resumption,” the official said. “I think we’re hopeful that we’ll see some progress, but I don’t have anything specific for you right now.”
‘Frank Exchanges’ on Middle East Issue
Mr. Blinken and Mr. Wang also had “frank exchanges” regarding the escalating tensions in the Middle East, which have been fueled by the ongoing conflict between Israeli military and Hamas terrorist group.
The officials said the United States is calling on the CCP to use its influence with the Iranians to calm tensions in the Middle East.
“I think it’s fair to say we expressed our deep concern with the situation and pressed China to take a more constructive approach. And that would include, of course, their engagements with the Iranians to urge calm,” the official said.
Mr. Blinken and Mr. Sullivan also discussed with Mr. Wang about Taiwan, human rights, the flow of fentanyl precursors, and the cases of Americans detained in China.
The key area that appeared to show some positive momentum was toward an expected meeting between President Biden and Mr. Xi on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit next month in San Francisco.
“We are making preparations for such a meeting,” the official said. “Obviously, Chinese leaders often confirm publicly much closer to a trip, so I will leave it to the Chinese side to figure out if and when they make that announcement.”
Reuters contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times