US and China diplomats meet in Vienna for talks amid soaring tensions
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi gathered in Vienna this week for talks aimed at maintaining communication between Washington and Beijing amid soaring tensions, particularly over Taiwan. The two officials engaged in eight hours of discussions in the Austrian capital, covering a range of topics, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Taiwan – two highly sensitive subjects in the relationship between the world’s largest economies.
Both sides characterized the meeting as “candid, substantive, and constructive,” with the White House emphasizing the importance of maintaining channels of communication during times of tension. The two diplomats reportedly “agreed to continue to make good use of this strategic channel for communication.”
Taiwan, a self-ruled island, faces the constant threat of a Chinese invasion, as Beijing asserts its claim to the territory. Wang “comprehensively expounded upon China’s solemn position” on Taiwan, according to Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua.
Sullivan and Wang also addressed Indo-Pacific regional security issues during their meeting, with the US seeking improved cooperation from China in combating drug trafficking. The US has linked Chinese companies to the supply of chemicals that Mexican drug cartels use to produce fentanyl, a drug implicated in a recent surge of overdose deaths in the US, reports Channel News Asia.
On the topic of Taiwan, US officials underscored the fact that the two nations have managed the issue for over four decades without conflict and expressed a desire to maintain the status quo. Chinese diplomats, however, have maintained steady criticism of the United States, with President Xi Jinping accusing Western countries, led by the US, of attempting to undermine China in the global sphere.
US President Joe Biden has affirmed that he has no intention of doing China any favors in the competition between the two powers, but is committed to preventing the rivalry from escalating into a full-blown conflict. In this context, Sullivan highlighted the objective of managing competition responsibly and cooperating with China wherever possible.
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