US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan held “candid” talks on Taiwan and the Russian war in Ukraine with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi for two days, according to announcements from Washington and Beijing on Sunday, the second such meeting in four months.
Both sides called the two days of talks in Malta on Saturday and Sunday “candid, substantive and constructive” and said the two officials committed to further high-level dialogue, but did not say when the next round would be or who would lead them.
“The two sides discussed key issues in the US-China bilateral relationship, global and regional security issues, Russia’s war against Ukraine, and cross-Strait issues, among other topics,” the White House said in a readout. “The United States noted the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
Like most other Western countries, the US does not recognise Taiwan as an independent country, although Washington is committed by its Taiwan Relations Act to support the self-ruled island’s defence capability.
Beijing’s announcement, which called for “strategic communication focusing on stabilizing and improving Sino-US relations” stressed differences over Taiwan.
“Wang Yi emphasized that the Taiwan issue is the first insurmountable red line in Sino-US relations,” Wang’s department said. “The United States must abide by the three Sino-US joint communiqués and implement its commitment not to support ‘Taiwan independence’.
“China’s development has strong endogenous driving force and follows inevitable historical logic. It cannot be stopped,” it continued. “The Chinese people’s legitimate right to development cannot be deprived.”
No further details were provided about what conclusions the two sides drew on the subjects covered.
A continuation of high-level, bilateral engagement that resumed after a deep freeze earlier this year, the latest round of talks follows recent trips by four other top officials in US President Joe Biden’s administration: Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and John Kerry, Biden’s top envoy on climate.
Tension around Taiwan and assurances by US officials that Washington is not trying to decouple from China economically or contain the country’s influence, have topped the agendas for all of these meetings.
Yet both sides have made recent moves that the other sees as upsetting the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.
The US Congress and the Biden administration have been pushing measures to strengthen economic ties with Taiwan.
With Wang scheduled to visit Moscow for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov this week, and Chinese President Xi Jinping skipping the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week, no high-level US-China engagement will take place at the annual event.
Biden is expected to meet Xi at the Apec leaders’ summit in San Francisco in November.
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