Biden national security adviser to meet China’s top diplomat

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan
Getty Images

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan will meet face-to-face with China’s top diplomat in Switzerland on Wednesday as the Biden administration issues warnings over China’s aggressive military activity near Taiwan. 

Sullivan will meet with Yang Jiechi in Zurich to follow up on a Sept. 9 phone call between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, White House National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement on Tuesday. The White House said the meeting is aimed at “responsibly” managing competition between the U.S. and China. 

“We will continue to seek to responsibly manage the competition between the U.S. and the PRC and that’s what this meeting is about,” White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One Tuesday afternoon. 

Biden and Xi held a lengthy phone call last month – their second since Biden took office – during which they discussed a range of issues.

Sullivan is likely to press Yang on China’s provocations against Taiwan, though the White House did not offer specific topics of discussion. Chinese warplanes violated Taiwan’s airspace nearly 150 times over a four-day period, leaving Taiwanese officials worried about the potential for military confrontation.

“We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during a Monday briefing.

Psaki said that officials have raised concerns about China’s activity both privately and publicly, though she didn’t specify which U.S. officials have done so.

It’s possible that the Sullivan meeting could also pave the way for a face-to-face between Biden and Xi, though the White House has been mum on any hope for such an encounter. Sullivan will meet with Yang before huddling with European officials.

Despite the Biden administration’s effort to tamp down confrontation with China, tensions between Washington and Beijing have nevertheless persisted on a number of fronts.

Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken last met face-to-face with their Chinese counterparts in March in Anchorage, a meeting that quickly turned frosty as the U.S. officials criticized China’s human rights record.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai also said this week that she will begin direct consultations with her Chinese counterpart on the U.S.-China trade relationship. Tai plans to press China to live up to its commitments in the so-called “phase one” trade pact brokered under the Trump administration.

Tags Antony Blinken China Jake Sullivan Jen Psaki Joe Biden Karine Jean-Pierre Katherine Tai
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