December 7, 2023

Jake Sullivan and Yang Jiechi speaking in Zurich

Jake Sullivan and Yang Jiechi speaking in Zurich

aFacing rising tensions in US-China relations, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, and Beijing’s top foreign policy official, Yang Jiechi, met in Zurich on Wednesday for talks. The White House said the meeting was to follow up on Biden’s phone call with President Xi Jinping in early September and to seek responsible competition between the two countries. In their first phone conversation in seven months, the two presidents stressed the need to ensure that competition does not lead to conflict.

Frederic Pogue

Political correspondent for China, North Korea and Mongolia.

Majed Star

Washington-based North American political correspondent.

After the meeting in Zurich, Sullivan announced that he had raised a number of points of interest to Washington. These included human rights and the situation in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan as well as in the South China Sea. Sullivan made clear that Washington will continue to invest in its “national strength” and work closely with its allies, but it will also remain in talks with China to ensure responsible competition.

“Provocative military activities”

Recently, the Chinese military has challenged Taiwan’s air defense several times by allowing aircraft to penetrate the Taipei Air Defense Identification Zone. Washington quickly condemned Beijing’s “provocative military activity”.

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Chinese officials told the South China Morning Post before the meeting that the purpose of the conversation between Yang Jiechi and Jake Sullivan was to open channels of communication and discuss the possibility of a meeting between Xi and Joe Biden. Contrary to what appears to have been originally planned, this will not happen at the G-20 summit in Rome. Xi Jinping will only participate via video switch. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the meeting between Yang and Sullivan was arranged during a phone call between Xi and Biden in September.

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