1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

US national security adviser, Chinese diplomat talk in Malta

September 18, 2023

The talks took place over Saturday and Sunday, as the diplomats try to seek common ground over thorny issues such as Taiwan. The meeting may pave the way for Presidents Biden and Xi to meet in the near future.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has sought to deescalate tensions in the Taiwan StraitImage: Susan Walsh/AP Photo/picture alliance

US President Joe Biden's national security adviser met with China's foreign minister over the weekend in Malta in an effort to ease tensions between the two global superpowers.

The White House said in a statement on Sunday that the meeting between US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was intended to "maintain open lines of communication and responsibly manage the relationship."

'Candid discussions'

The statement said that the two diplomats had "candid, substantive and constructive discussions."

A Chinese government statement on the Malta meeting largely echoed the US version, saying "the two sides conducted candid, substantive and constructive strategic communication."

Wang brought up the issue of Taiwan, a self-governing, democratic island that China claims but which also receives strong US support, as a "red line that cannot be crossed in Sino-US relations."

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi
Wang Yi recently returned to the post of foreign minister after his predecessor Qin Gang was removed from office Image: Yin Bogu/picture alliance/Xinhua News Agency

On the same issue, the White House statement commented: "The United States noted the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait."

Sullivan and Wang last met in May in the Austrian capital of Vienna for talks.

Biden and Xi to talk?

Meanwhile, Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have not spoken or met since a summit in Bali last year but Washington officials say they are working to reconnect the two leaders.

A string of high-level US officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, have met recently with Chinese officials to lay the groundwork for a possible Xi-Biden meeting.

Chinese FM to visit Russia

China and Russia's strategic relationship will also be in focus over the coming days with confirmation from Beijing that Wang will be visiting Russia for security talks.

The visit is the latest in a series of high-level visits and telephone calls between the two countries, signs of deepening cooperation that will be of concern to Washington.

China's foreign ministry said that Wang "will go to Russia to hold the 18th round of the China-Russian Strategic Security Consultations (SSCC) from 18 to 21 September" at the invitation of Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Moscow's security council. 

In August, Defence Minister Li Shangfu visited Russia and Belarus, and called for closer military cooperation. 

kb,jsi/wd (AFP, AP)