The White House announced Sunday that its national security adviser we meet on the weekend with China’s top diplomat in Malta, as part of efforts to keep communication open between the two nations and as political purges roil elite circles in Beijing.
Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, met with Wang Yi, the Communist Party’s top foreign policy official and China’s foreign minister, on Saturday and Sunday, the White House said in its summary of the talks. The summary said they discussed relations between the two nations, Russia’s war in Ukraine and tensions between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan, a de facto independent democratic island that the party seeks to govern and which is an important partner of the United States.
A senior White House official told reporters in a conference call on Sunday that Sullivan reiterated American concerns about recent Chinese military actions in Taiwan and other coercive activities, and said any dispute or conflict should be resolved peacefully.
The US official also said Sullivan stressed that China should not try to help Russia in its war against Ukraine. The core of those concerns concerns the US intelligence assessment that since the winter, China has been considering sending weapons. to President Vladimir V. Putin for his war. U.S. officials announced those findings in late February and confronted Chinese officials about them at the time. The White House official said China had so far refrained from sending substantial weaponry.
The White House summary also said Sullivan and Wang agreed that the two governments would “pursue additional high-level engagement and consultation in key areas.” In recent weeks, U.S. officials have said they were trying to arrange a meeting between President Biden and Xi Jinping, China’s leader, on the sidelines of an international summit in San Francisco in November. However, recent developments, especially within the Chinese government and party, have called into question whether that will happen.
Questions are raised around recent purges within the highest levels of the Chinese government and the Communist Party. U.S. officials determined last week that Gen. Li Shangfu, the Chinese defense minister, who had made no public appearances or statements since late August, had been put under investigation for corruption. In July, Mr. Xi abruptly overthrew Qin Gangforeign minister, and announced that Mr. Wang, who had held that ministerial position before being promoted to the top foreign policy position within the party, would take over Mr. Qin’s duties.
US intelligence agencies have been working hard to try to obtain information about current conflicts within the leadership ranks, as part of a much broader campaign of espionage, shadow warfare, and intelligence gathering between the United States and China.
Biden has made an effort since The spy balloon crisis earlier this year. try to engage its senior officials in high-level diplomacy with their counterparts in Beijing to establish stability in relations, however slight.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken traveled to Beijing in June during two days of meetings, mainly separate conversations with Xi, Wang and Qin, after canceling a trip during the balloon episode in early February. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen traveled to Beijing shortly afterward. She was followed by John Kerry, the special climate envoy, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
When Blinken visited the country, his aides said the summer trips were part of a series of high-level visits between the countries, the world’s two largest economies. But in recent weeks, U.S. officials have said they do not expect Cabinet-level Chinese officials to come to Washington anytime soon. Instead, they have focused on trying to organize a possible fall meeting between Biden and Xi, which would take place on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ summit in November.
However, U.S. officials say that’s not certain, and Chinese officials often don’t give a final deal to a major diplomatic meeting until the last minute, trying to exert influence over the other nation.
Xi is grappling with domestic political issues as China’s economy slows, raising questions about the nation’s continued growth prospects. At the same time, a growing number of Chinese citizens in elite circles complain about the direction of the country. criticizing Mr. Xi’s recent policies as well as his relentless promotion of the party’s ideology and trumpeting his own personal status within the party’s history.