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US envoy Sullivan to meet China’s top diplomat Yang amid Taiwan tensions

BEIJING

US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser will hold talks with China’s top diplomat in Switzerland today and tomorrow, the South China Morning Post said, at a time of rising tension over several issues including Taiwan.

“They aim to rebuild communication channels and implement consensus reached between presidents Xi Jinping and Joe Biden,” the newspaper reported today, citing an official familiar with the arrangements for the meeting between Jake Sullivan and Yang Jiechi.

Both the White House and the Chinese foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Ties between China and the United States deteriorated sharply under former US President Donald Trump, and the Biden administration has maintained pressure on China on a range of issues from Hong Kong and the Xinjiang region to the origins of Covid-19.

China has also been angered by increased US support for Taiwan, believing the United States is colluding with forces there seeking the island’s formal independence, a red line for Beijing.

“Our commitment to Taiwan is rock solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters yesterday.

“We have been clear privately and publicly about our concern about the PRC’s (People’s Repubic of China) pressure and coercion toward Taiwan, and we will continue to watch the situation very closely,” she said.

Trade tensions are also at the top of the US-China agenda, with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai traveling to Paris yesterday to participate in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development meetings later this week.

Yesterday, the USTR unveiled the results of a months-long “top-to-bottom” review of China trade policy, pledging to hold “frank” talks with Beijing about its failure to keep promises made in Trump’s trade deal and end harmful industrial policies.

The Global Times, a tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said in a commentary China was willing to build mutually beneficial trade with the United States but would not make concessions on principle and was not afraid of a drawn-out contest.

“The China-US trade war has lasted for more than three-and-a-half years. Instead of being weakened, China’s economy has taken a step forward in comparison with the scale of the US,” it said.

The meetings this week will be yet another round of in-person talks between officials from the two powers since Biden took office, with little in the way of concrete progress in the earlier sessions.

In late July, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the second-ranking US diplomat, held face-to-face meetings with Xie Feng, a Chinese vice foreign minister, in the Chinese port city of Tianjin.

No specific outcomes were agreed and the prospect of a meeting between Biden and Xi was not discussed, senior US administration officials said at the time.

In March, during high-level talks in Alaska, Chinese officials including Yang Jiechi railed against the state of US democracy, while US officials accused the Chinese delegation of grandstanding. — Reuters

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