The United States and China want to hold further talks at the “highest level” in the coming months following a meeting between high ranking officials over the weekend, the White House said on Sunday.
The two sides committed to this after a meeting between US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and China’s chief diplomat Wang Yi in Malta, the US administration said on Sunday. The meeting between Wang and Sullivan “was part of ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication and responsibly manage the relationship,” the White House said in an official readout.
The statement said the discussions were “candid, substantive, and constructive.” The officials discussed “key issues in the US-China bilateral relationship,” including global and regional security issues and Russia’s war against Ukraine.
The statement added that the US “noted the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait” and expressed concern about increased Chinese military activity in the region. The representatives of China and the US had spent around 12 hours with each other in Malta over two days, said a representative of the US government.
The US government did not say whether US President Joe Biden and China’s leader Xi Jinping would meet at the Asia-Pacific (APEC) summit in San Francisco in November.
Biden has repeatedly hinted in recent weeks that there could be talks between him and Xi later this year. The two last met in 2022 on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia. Xi did not travel to this year’s G20 summit in India.
China is sending Vice President Han Zheng, who has more of a ceremonial role, to the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week.
Relations between the US and China have been strained by a raft of issues, including China’s backing of Russia’s war in Ukraine, threats from Beijing against Taiwan and ongoing trade disputes.
Most recently, Biden announced that he would restrict certain US investments in China in future-oriented areas such as semiconductors and artificial intelligence.
Biden and Xi last met in November 2022 on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali.
The meeting between Wang and Sullivan comes as Beijing and Washington have been taking steps to reestablish and strengthen communication to avoid their increasingly fraught and contentious relationship veering into conflict.
China severed multiples lines of communication with the US last August after a visit from then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan. China’s ruling Communist Party views the self-ruled island democracy as its own and has not ruled out taking it by force.
The island remains one of the thorniest subjects between the two, with Wang telling Sullivan over the weekend that “the Taiwan issue is the first insurmountable red line in Sino-US relations,” according to a readout from China’s Foreign Ministry.