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.
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”.
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.
Unlike their first meeting in Alaska in March, the two foreign politicians were not interested in a public confrontation this time around. At the time, Yang said orally that it was not for the United States to talk to China from a position of strength. This time Beijing decided to use a cautious tone.
Meng Wanzhouse has been launched
In the state media, it was emphasized that recently there was an important victory for China in relations with America. The US Department of Justice had dropped a request to Canada to extradite Huawei director Meng Wanzhou, after which she was able to return to China after three years of house arrest. Meng Wanzhou’s release was part of a list of demands that China presented to Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.
What was not mentioned in Beijing is that Meng admitted in writing that she had provided false information about her company’s business in Iran. State media also tried to see the meeting in Zurich as evidence that China was fulfilling its responsibilities as a great power. The assessment was expressed that after a phase of experimental confrontation, Biden was now interested in a more pragmatic approach.
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