US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a series of “candid” talks in Malta over the weekend, aimed at stabilizing the troubled relations between the two largest economies in the world. The discussions, which took place on Saturday and Sunday, touched upon various issues such as trade and the militarization of the Pacific. One key topic that Wang brought up was Taiwan, a self-governing democratic island that China claims as its own territory. Wang emphasized that Taiwan is a "red line" that cannot be crossed in Sino-US relations. In response, the US reiterated its commitment to defending Taiwan against any potential Chinese aggression.
The White House issued a statement affirming the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and expressing the intent to maintain a strategic channel of communication with China. Both sides also pledged to pursue further high-level engagement. China's government released a statement that echoed the US version, describing the talks as "candid, substantive, and constructive strategic communication."
This meeting between Sullivan and Wang is just one in a series of high-level discussions between US and Chinese officials, which could set the stage for a potential meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping later this year. Sullivan and Wang previously met in Vienna in May.
The tensions between the US and China have escalated in recent years, with each side accusing the other of various issues. China has accused the US of weaponizing technology and trade under the guise of national security, while the US has warned against China's military ambitions in Taiwan and the Pacific. In response, the US has formed security alliances in the Pacific to counter China's growing influence.
The outcome of these talks in Malta is crucial in determining the future trajectory of US-China relations. Both countries are aware of the significance of maintaining stability and resolving their differences in order to avoid further conflict. The discussions focused on finding common ground and establishing channels of communication for future dialogue.
The next potential opportunity for Biden and Xi to meet is at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco in November. Biden expressed his disappointment that Xi did not attend the recent G20 summit in India but expressed hope to meet him soon. This ongoing communication between the two countries is crucial in ensuring that tensions do not escalate further and that both sides can work towards a more stable and cooperative relationship.
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