In what could be the first step towards bridging the gap between the two superpowers, US and China, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and senior Chinese foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi met in Zurich on Wednesday and deliberated on issues for six hours.
Meeting of the leaders
The talks pave the way for a meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping by the end of this year. The White House is working on the modalities of the virtual meeting, press secretary Jen Psaki said.
Biden, who had met Xi when the two were vice-presidents, had proposed the meeting in a call on September 9, AP reported quoting a senior administration official. Xi has not left the country since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
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Officials described the meeting as the most constructive and in-depth conversation between the two sides since Biden assumed office in January. Sullivan and Yang had last met in Alaska in March along with US secretary of state Tony Blinken. However, the meeting soon devolved into a bitter exchange with the two sides publicly skewering each other’s policies. While Washington called the talks "tough and direct", Yang assailed the two US officials for interfering in Chinese affairs.
In the Swiss meeting, both the officials stressed the need to maintain open lines of communication. A White House statement said the US raised concerns over China’s military provocations in Taiwan, abuse of human rights against ethnic minorities like the Uyghur Muslims and China’s crackdown on pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong.
"We will also continue to engage with the PRC (People's Republic of China) at a senior level to ensure responsible competition," Sullivan said in a statement.
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Yang asked the US to stop interfering in its internal issues relating to Taiwan and Hong Kong. "China attaches importance to the positive remarks on China-US relations made recently by US President Joe Biden, and China has noticed that the US side said it ... is not seeking a new Cold War," Chinese Xinhua News Agency reported.
The meeting, however, did not highlight a single area in which the US and China would collaborate productively. Sullivan stressed cooperation on climate change is kept separate from human rights issues. "I don't think that
For now, the US plans to continue with the tariffs levied on China during the Trump administration.
(Edited by : Jomy Jos Pullokaran)