In meeting of top officials, US tries to sway Beijing from growing closer to Russia, N. Korea

Posted on : 2023-09-19 16:40 KST Modified on : 2023-09-19 16:40 KST
White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Malta over the weekend
Jake Sullivan, the White House national security advisor. (AP/Yonhap)
Jake Sullivan, the White House national security advisor. (AP/Yonhap)

The top foreign policy and security officials of the US and China met once again following their recent meeting in May.

This meeting, which appears to have occasioned discussions about a potential US-China summit and took place immediately after the North Korea-Russia summit and right before Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Russia, demonstrates how urgent diplomatic efforts are being made by countries neighboring the Korean Peninsula.

On Sunday, the White House revealed that US national security advisor Jake Sullivan met with Wang, who also serves as the director of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee Foreign Affairs Commission, in Malta on Saturday and Sunday. Just like during their meeting in Vienna in May, the two held talks for a relatively lengthy 12 hours over the course of two days.

In its statement, the White House shared that the two officials had “candid, substantive, and constructive” discussions regarding key issues in their respective countries’ bilateral relations, such as global and regional security, the war in Ukraine, and the Taiwan Strait. The White House also explained that the meeting between Sullivan and Wang was part of an effort to continue high-level engagements between the US and China, which previously resulted in State Secretary Anthony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s visits to Beijing.

Sullivan and Wang met as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wrapped up his six-day itinerary in Russia, which included his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and just before Wang’s trip to Moscow to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday.

A high-ranking US official commented during a press briefing that Sullivan communicated to Wang concerns regarding Beijing’s support of Moscow’s war effort in Ukraine as well as Wang’s upcoming visit to Moscow.

The White House appears to have disclosed details about Sullivan and Wang’s discussion with relative specificity in order to steer China away from drawing closer with Russia amid the increasing likelihood of North Korea providing weapons to Russia following the summit between the two countries’ leaders. This is because, if China, which provides non-lethal items to Russia, grows more proactive in its support of Russia along with North Korea, it could significantly shake up the structure of the war in Ukraine.

In February, the US warned China against providing lethal aid to Russia. Right before Kim’s visit to Russia, Sullivan forewarned that North Korea would “pay a price” if it traded in arms with Russia.

Amid predictions that Wang will be given an explanation regarding this from Lavrov, who was present at the North Korea-Russia summit, the US is raising its guard against North Korea, China and Russia bolstering trilateral cooperation.

It was originally estimated that Wang would attend the UN General Assembly commencing on Tuesday in New York, but he was abruptly scheduled to visit Russia. Predictions that discussions about holding a US-China summit during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit scheduled to take place in San Francisco in November would occur during Wang’s visit to New York had been made within the US. Wang will be headed to Moscow instead, during which he is expected to prepare for the China-Russia summit expected to take place next month.

But as the possibility of a US-China summit being arranged for November is still being raised in the US, some estimate that Sullivan and Wang discussed making preparations for a summit between their respective countries during their meeting. The US State Department recently stated that Wang will be coming to the US before the end of the year even if he doesn’t attend the UN General Assembly, adding that US President Joe Biden expects to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in late fall.

Meanwhile, a high-ranking US official revealed that the US received “limited” signals from China regarding opening lines of military-to-military communication. While accepting the opening of communication channels in other areas, China has displayed a passive attitude in the military field.

By Lee Bon-young, Washington correspondent

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