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“Frank” exchanges after several tense days: the security and diplomatic advisers of China and the United States spoke Monday at a meeting in Luxembourg, during which the question of Taiwan was discussed. No compromise has been announced.
After several days of tension, particularly on Taiwan, the exchanges were “frank”, according to Beijing and Washington: the main security and diplomacy advisers of China and the United States spoke at length on Monday, June 13.
The tone dropped a notch at the meeting in Luxembourg from last week, when China’s defense minister warned that his country would not hesitate to start a war over Taiwan, while his counterpart American criticizes Beijing’s “provocative and destabilizing” military activities.
Jake Sullivan, the main diplomatic adviser to US President Joe Biden, and Yang Jiechi, who holds the same position with Chinese President Xi Jinping, did not however announce a compromise on their main points of disagreement, such as Taiwan, that the China considers it an integral part of its territory and intends to take it back one day, by force if necessary.
“The Taiwan issue touches on the political foundation of China-US relations and, if not handled properly, will have a detrimental impact,” Yang Jiechi was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency, urging states United to avoid “bad judgements” and “illusions” on this subject.
Joe Biden’s adviser “reiterated our long-standing position on a single China as well as our positions and concerns regarding Beijing’s coercive and aggressive actions in the Taiwan Strait”, according to a statement from the White House.
Tensions over Taiwan have risen steadily in recent months, including the proliferation of incursions by Chinese military aircraft into the air defense identification zone (Adiz) of the island.
The American president had recently seemed to question this delicate diplomatic balance by assuring that the United States would defend the autonomous island militarily if Beijing invaded it.
“Strategic Ambiguity” Policy
Jake Sullivan reaffirmed the so-called “strategic ambiguity” policy whereby the United States diplomatically recognizes Communist China, but militarily supports Taiwan at the same time.
The interview in Luxembourg between Jake Sullivan and Yang Jiechi, who had exchanged by telephone on May 18, lasted four and a half hours, according to a senior official of the American executive.
The relationship between Beijing and Washington has deteriorated in recent years, with the two great powers clashing in several areas, such as international trade, human rights and, most recently, the war in Ukraine.
In a statement, the White House spoke of a “frank” and “productive” exchange, during which Jake Sullivan “underscored the importance of maintaining open lines of communication”.
The official New China news agency also described the interview as “frank, in-depth and constructive”.
Yang Jiechi agreed to maintain the dialogue, but made it clear that Beijing was not going to change its red lines.
“Since a while […]the US side insists on further containing and repressing China comprehensively,” he said, according to New China. But Beijing refuses to “define bilateral relations through competition.”
According to the news agency’s report, Yang Jiechi “also stated China’s solemn position on issues concerning Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Tibet, the South China Sea, as well as human rights. and religion”.
On these subjects, China, which is the target of international condemnations, repeats that it would not tolerate any interference in its internal affairs.
The United States and its Western allies regularly warn Beijing against its naval pretensions in the South China Sea, where China disputes sovereignty over certain areas in the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Sino-U.S. relations entered deep turmoil under previous U.S. President Donald Trump, who unleashed an economic war to address what he saw as abusive trade practices by Beijing.
Joe Biden has said he is considering lifting some tariffs in an attempt to defuse runaway inflation in his country.
>> To read on France 24: How China pushes Europeans into the arms of Taiwan