China and US hold ‘fruitful’ talks in Bangkok
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China and US hold ‘fruitful’ talks in Bangkok

Visiting Chinese foreign minister and US security adviser working to improve superpower relations

(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had “candid, substantive and fruitful strategic communication” in Bangkok with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, aimed at furthering a pledge of dialogue by their leaders, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Saturday.

The two officials agreed to properly handle important and sensitive issues in US-China relations, the ministry said, while acknowledging that Taiwan remains a sensitive matter.

They also pledged that Presidents Xi Jinping and Joe Biden would “maintain regular contact to provide strategic guidance for bilateral relations … and make good use of the current strategic communication channels”.

The White House described the talks as “constructive” and said the two sides agreed to keep communication channels open.

Both sides will work to set up a call between Mr Xi and Mr Biden, the White House said, as part of efforts to pursue “high-level diplomacy”.

“Mr Sullivan stressed that although the United States and China are in competition, both countries need to prevent it from veering into conflict or confrontation,” it added.

Mr Wang also used the talks to issue a warning about Taiwanese independence, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

It quoted the minister as saying that the Taiwan issue was the greatest challenge to relations between Beijing and Washington. The two powers have recently butted heads again over self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its territory, and where elections were held this month.

The Bangkok talks were the first between high-ranking US and Chinese officials since the Taiwanese vote, in which Lai Ching-te of the ruling, independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party won.

Mr Sullivan “underscored the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait”, according to the White House, which did not elaborate further.

China and the US also agreed to launch a joint working group on anti-drug cooperation, as well as set up an intergovernmental dialogue on artificial intelligence in the spring.

Thai-Chinese visa deal

Mr Wang began a four-day visit to Bangkok on Friday. One of the highlights will come on Sunday when China and Thailand formally sign an agreement to permanently waive certain visa requirements for each other’s citizens to boost tourism.

Shortly before Mr Wang’s arrival, reports emerged from Washington that Mr Sullivan would be arriving in Thailand for talks, as part of an attempt to improve US-China relations after years of tensions.

Beijing and Washington have clashed on many flashpoint issues from technology and trade to human rights, as well as over Taiwan and competing claims in the South China Sea.

President Biden met President Xi in November at the Apec summit in San Francisco and both men pledged to “responsibly manage the relationship”, the White House said.

That meeting was followed by a flurry of diplomatic exchanges between Washington and Beijing, highlighted by defence officials from the two sides resuming policy coordination talks at the Pentagon earlier this month.

Mr Sullivan on Friday also met with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and other top officials. They discussed “regional and global issues, including efforts to address the worsening crisis in Burma”, the White House said.

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