President Joe Biden’s national security adviser met with China’s foreign minister over the past two days on the Mediterranean island nation of Malta in an effort that the White House said Sunday was intended to “responsibly maintain the relationship” at a time of strained ties and mutual suspicion between the rival powers.
The White House said in a statement that Jake Sullivan and Chinese envoy Wang Yi had “candid, substantive and constructive discussions” as the world’s two largest economies try “to maintain open lines of communication.” Sullivan and Wang last met in May in Vienna for talks. The two officials spent about 12 hours together over two days in Malta.
Washington and Beijing see themselves as competitors despite an extensive trade partnership. President Joe Biden recently spoke with Chinese Premier Li Qiang while in India at the Group of 20 summit and told reporters afterward that they had talked about “stability” and “it wasn’t confrontational at all.”
Biden has worked to strengthen relations with Japan, South Korea, India, Vietnam and others to counterbalance China’s influence across the Pacific Region. Yet Biden said last Sunday at a news conference in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi that those alliances are not about a “cold war” with China.
“It’s not about containing China,” he said. “It’s about having a stable base” for global economic growth.