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US raises China concerns at Zurich meeting

US delegation in Zurich
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan, left, and his delegation leave the Hyatt hotel in Zurich Airport, Switzerland, on October 6, 2021 Keystone / Michael Buholzer

United States national security adviser Jake Sullivan raised concerns about Beijing’s actions in a meeting with China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Zurich on Wednesday.

The closed-door talks at an airport hotel in the Swiss city were aimed at smoothing tensions between the two powers.

“Sullivan made clear that while we will continue to invest in our own national strength and work closely with our allies and partners, we will also continue to engage with the PRC (People’s Republic of China) at a senior level to ensure responsible competition,” the White House said in a statement.External link

Sullivan raised issues including human rights, China’s actions in the South China Sea, and Beijing’s stances on Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang, the White House said.

The meeting followed up on President Joe Biden’s call on September 9 with Chinese President Xi Jinping as the United States continues to “seek to responsibly manage the competition” with China, the White House added.

Virtual meeting?

According to the US media, following the meeting the US and China reached an agreement in principle for Biden and Xi to hold a virtual meeting before the end of the year.

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki would only say at the Wednesday daily briefingExternal link that an agreement was reached “to continue dialogue at a very high level” and that officials were “still working through what that would look like”.

For its part, China’s foreign ministry said in a statement that Yang had told Sullivan that confrontation would damage both countries and the world, according to Reuters.

Sullivan is in Europe for a number of high-profile meetings. He will visit Brussels for meetings with NATO and European Union officials, as well as Paris, and will brief the Europeans on his meeting with Yang

“The two sides agreed to take action… to strengthen strategic communication, properly manage differences, avoid conflict and confrontation,” the ministry statement said.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Swiss foreign ministry tweeted that the country was pleased to host the US-China meeting.

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