Sullivan says tariffs will not take center stage in talks with China

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National security adviser Jake Sullivan said Friday that tariffs and export controls will not be a top issue when U.S. and China holds their first in-person meeting next week.

“This is our effort to communicate clearly to the Chinese government how the United States intends to proceed at a strategic level, what we believe our fundamental interests and values are, and what our concerns with their activities are,” Sullivan said during a press conference at the White House Friday.

“I don’t expect that, for example, the phase one trade deal is going to be a major topic of conversation next week,” he added. 

The State Department announced Wednesday that the meeting next week in Anchorage, Alaska will take place with top Chinese officals. Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with China’s foreign minister Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi, a member of the Politburo.

Asked about the meeting during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing later Wednesday, Blinken said it was “an important opportunity, for us, to lay out in very frank terms the many concerns we have with Beijing’s actions and behavior that are challenging the security, prosperity and values of the United States and our allies.” 

The meeting is expected to cover a range of topics, including the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, and China’s behavior in Hong Kong. President Biden has said he wants to work with Beijing in areas of shared interest and will pressure China on its human rights record. 

While the Trump administration and Beijing engaged in a tit-for-tat trade war for years, Sullivan’s remarks suggest that the levies will take a backseat in negotiations with China moving forward. 

The U.S. and China signed a phase one trade deal during the Trump administration that laid out guidelines for Beijing to increase its purchases of U.S. agricultural goods, though it is unclear if those promises have been fulfilled.

The Biden administration has said it is reviewing Trump’s trade policies.

Tags Antony Blinken biden administration Jake Sullivan Joe Biden Presidency of Donald Trump
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