China’s top diplomat Wang Yi will discuss Taiwan with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan during talks in Thailand this week, Beijing said on Friday, as the two powers seek to improve relations after years of tensions.
Beijing and Washington have clashed in recent years on flashpoint issues from technology and trade to human rights, as well as over the self-ruled island and competing claims in the South China Sea.
In a bid to improve some of the worst relations in decades, President Joe Biden met Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in San Francisco in November for talks that both sides described as a qualified success. “Wang Yi will state China’s position on China-US relations, Taiwan, and other issues, and will exchange views with the US on international and regional issues of common concern,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular press conference on Friday.
Earlier Beijing said Wang would meet Sullivan in the Thai capital and would stay in the country until Monday. The US said the talks would take place over Friday and Saturday.
“This meeting continues the commitment by both sides at the November 2023 Woodside Summit between President Biden and President Xi to maintain strategic communication and responsibly manage the relationship,” the White House said. On Friday, Sullivan met with Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and other top officials in Bangkok, both countries said. They discussed “regional and global issues, including efforts to address the worsening crisis in Burma”, where fighting has flared between the Myanmar junta and ethnic armed groups in the north of the country, the White House said.
Speaking in Beijing this month, Wang said that while the relationship had encountered “serious difficulties”, ties had “stabilised” last year. But Wang’s rosy assessment belied continuing sources of tension, with the two powers most recently butting heads over elections in the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which Beijing claims.
A delegation of US lawmakers visited the island this week, meeting with President-elect Lai Ching-te and reaffirming Washington’s support for the democracy. In the run-up to the recent poll, Chinese officials slammed Lai as a dangerous separatist who would take Taiwan down the “evil path” of independence.
And following a Washington missive congratulating him on his election, Beijing said it “strongly deplored” the statement, warning the United States against any support for what it called “separatist forces” on the island.
In Beijing, the foreign ministry complained Thursday that Washington had “carried out a series of negative words and deeds” since Lai’s election. Spokesman Wang Wenbin urged the United States to “immediately stop infringing and provocative actions” and “stop causing trouble for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait”.