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The Future of US-China Relations in the Context of the Jake Sullivan-Wang Yi Meeting.

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United States (US) National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan held a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Malta on September 16-17, 2023. [i] According to a statement from the White House, the parties engaged in “significant and constructive discussions” and expressed their hope to maintain “open communication channels[ii]

During the two-day meetings, Wang raised the issue of Taiwan as a “red line” that cannot be crossed in bilateral relations. The US, on the other hand, has pledged to protect Taiwan in the event of a potential conflict [iii]

In the statement issued by the White House, it was emphasized that “the US underscored the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait” and stated that the parties are “committed to maintaining this strategic communication channel and continuing additional high-level engagement[iv]

Beijing’s statement regarding the Malta meeting closely mirrors that of Washington’s. It stated that, “both sides have conducted sincere, robust, and constructive strategic communication.” [v] China urges the US not to weaponized technology and trade issues, while Washington has called on Beijing to exercise caution in matters related to Taiwan and military affairs in the Pacific [vi]

Sullivan’s meeting with Wang serves as the final installment in a series of high-level discussions that could pave the way for a meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping later this year[vii]

The White House statement notes that Sullivan and Wang addressed bilateral relations, global and regional security issues, Russia’s war in Ukraine, and the Taiwan Strait. According to the statement, both sides have committed to maintaining this strategic communication channel and continuing additional high-level engagement and consultations in key areas in the coming months [viii]

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has stated that the parties have reached an agreement on high-level engagements and bilateral consultations on Asia-Pacific issues, maritime matters, and foreign policy discussions[ix]

The meetings between Wang and Sullivan are noteworthy as they mark the first meeting between the two sides since May of this year. It is worth recalling that in February 2023, the U.S. shot down a balloon operated by China in its national airspace. As a result of this incident, China had canceled the planned visit of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Beijing. In summary, the key issues causing tension in bilateral relations include U.S. support for Taiwan, trade disputes over intellectual property, and particularly China’s military advancements in the field of hypersonic missiles, which the U.S. does not possess [x]

During the recent exchanges, Wang conveyed that they have a “strong internal momentum” in national development, which is “unstoppable,” and emphasized that the legitimate right to development of the Chinese people should not be deprived[xi] Based on this, it can be seen that strong mutual messages will continue to be conveyed in bilateral relations. However, it is also evident that the parties are attempting to lower tension by engaging in dialogue.


[i] “Biden’s Adviser Meets China Foreign Minister in Bid to Ease Tensions”, Reuters, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/9/17/bidens-adviser-meets-china-foreign-minister-in-bid-to-ease-tensions, (Erişim Tarihi: 19.09.2023).

[ii] “Biden’s National Security Adviser Secretly Meets China’s Foreign Minister in bid to Ease Strained Ties”, National Broadcasting Company News, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/national-security-advisor-meets-china-foreign-minister-sullivan-rcna105458, (Erişim Tarihi: 19.09.2023).

[iii] “Biden’s National Security Advisor Secretly Meets China’s Foreign Minister in bid to Ease Strained Ties”, National Broadcasting Company Connecticut, https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/politics/bidens-national-security-advisor-secretly-meets-chinas-foreign-minis,(Erişim Tarihi: 19.09.2023).

[iv] “Biden’s National Security Adviser Secretly Meets China’s Foreign Minister in bid to Ease Strained Ties”, National Broadcasting Company News, a.g.e., (Erişim Tarihi: 19.09.2023).

[v] “Antony Blinken Meets Chinese President Xi in Bid to Ease Soaring US-China Tensions”, ABC News, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-06-19/blinken-meets-chinese-president-xi-in-bid-to-ease-soaring-us-chi/102497996, (Erişim Tarihi: 19.09.2023).

[vi] “Biden’s National Security Adviser Secretly Meets China’s Foreign Minister in bid to Ease Strained Ties”, National Broadcasting Company News, a.g.e., (Erişim Tarihi: 19.09.2023).

[vii] “Antony Blinken Meets Chinese President Xi in Bid to Ease Soaring US-China Tensions”, ABC News, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-06-19/blinken-meets-chinese-president-xi-in-bid-to-ease-soaring-us-chi/102497996, (Erişim Tarihi: 19.09.2023).

[viii] “Biden’s Adviser Meets China Foreign Minister in Bid to Ease Tensions”, Reuters, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/9/17/bidens-adviser-meets-china-foreign-minister-in-bid-to-ease-tensions, (Erişim Tarihi: 19.09.2023).

[ix] Aynı yer.

[x] “Top US and Chinese Diplomats Meet in Malta to Smooth Strained Relations”, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/sep/17/china-united-states-jake-sullivan-wang-yi-meeting-malta, (Erişim Tarihi: 19.09.2023).

[xi] Aynı yer.

Zeki Talustan GÜLTEN
Zeki Talustan GÜLTEN
Zeki Talustan Gülten graduated from Yalova University, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Department of International Relations in 2021 with his graduation thesis titled "American Foreign Policy" and from Anadolu University, Open Education Faculty, Department of Foreign Trade in 2023. Gülten, who is currently pursuing her Master's Degree with Thesis at Marmara University Institute of Social Sciences, Department of International Relations, was a student at the Faculty of International and Political Studies at Lodz University for a semester within the framework of the Erasmus+ program during her undergraduate education. Working as an Asia-Pacific Research Assistant at ANKASAM, Gülten's main areas of interest are American Foreign Policy, Asia-Pacific and International Law. Gülten is fluent in English.