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White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the United States and China are considering a call “fairly soon” between President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
Speaking at the University of San Diego Forum on U.S.-China Relations at the Council on Foreign Relations, Sullivan said the leaders’ summit in San Francisco in November highlighted the need for more of exchanges.
Sullivan was speaking after returning from Thailand, where he met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, using a circuitous route that U.S. officials say has been more effective over the past year than others channels due to lack of media attention.
He said he discussed the call at the leadership level during his two-day meeting with Wang. The clandestine meeting marked the latest attempt to stabilize relations between the United States and China following the San Francisco summit.
Biden and Xi agreed in San Francisco to try to ease tensions after a series of thorny issues — from Chinese military activity around Taiwan to U.S. controls on exports of cutting-edge technology — pushed relations at their lowest level since the two countries established diplomatic ties more than four decades ago. There is.
Sullivan said he had substantive discussions with Wang and raised concerns about China’s support for Russian efforts to rebuild its defense industrial base, saying he “had no hesitation” on that question.
He said he also told Wang that China had an “obligation” to use its influence with Tehran to rein in Iran-backed Houthi rebels who attack commercial shipping in the Red Sea. Sullivan said Beijing had an interest in trying to de-escalate the situation because of the importance of the Red Sea to trade between China and Europe.
In the latest sign of stabilization since the San Francisco summit, U.S. and Chinese officials are meeting this week in Beijing to discuss ways to stem the flow of chemicals from China used to make fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid that has sparked an epidemic in China. United States.
Sullivan said Beijing has taken some steps in the fight against narcotics, but added that Washington needs continued progress on the issue, which will likely be addressed in November’s U.S. presidential election given the number of related deaths. fentanyl in recent years.
Although the United States and China have managed to ease some surface tensions in recent months, they remain at odds over the issue of Taiwan.
Washington has warned Beijing not to overreact to the recent election of Lai Ching-te as Taiwan’s president, including by taking forceful military actions across the country ahead of his inauguration in May.
China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory and considers Lai a separatist, accuses the United States of interfering in what it considers its internal affairs.
Sullivan stressed that Taiwan’s elections had passed without serious incidents, but stressed that there was no guarantee that the situation would remain calm. He said the United States must continue to invest in deterrence in addition to conducting “detailed and tenacious diplomacy” with Beijing.