US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping plan to meet by video link before the end of the year, a senior US official said on Wednesday.
There is an “agreement in principle” for the “virtual bilateral”, the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
The virtual meeting was announced after US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi in the Swiss city of Zurich during six-hour talks aimed at improving communication between the two. country.
The closed-door meeting at an airport hotel was the couple’s first face-to-face meeting since an unusually public broadcast of grievances in Alaska in March.
U.S. officials had suggested the meeting followed Biden’s September 9 call with Xi, before which the world’s two largest economies appeared to be at a stalemate.
Sullivan’s trip continues an increase in contacts between Beijing and Washington, as Biden argues for the establishment of “safeguards” for the growing struggle between the two powers.
Tension is mounting over China’s aggressive stance towards Taiwan, the US decision to sell nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, trade disputes and human rights violations against Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
The White House said Sullivan raised concerns at the meeting about China’s actions in the South China Sea, as well as human rights and Beijing’s positions on Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan. .
Beijing and Washington both said the talks were constructive and frank. The US side said the tone was very different from that of Alaska.
Early speculation had been that Biden and Xi might meet in person at the G20 summit in Italy in October, but Xi has not left China since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic early last year and has not should not attend the summit in Rome or the UN. climate conference in Glasgow.
“Today’s conversation, in general, was a more meaningful and substantial engagement than what we have had to date below the leadership level,” the US official said, adding that Washington hoped that it would be a “model for future meetings”.
The official said, however, that this should not be seen as a thaw in relations.
“What we are trying to achieve is a stable state between the United States and China where we are able to compete intensely but manage this competition responsibly,” said the official.
China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Yang told Sullivan the confrontation would harm both countries and the world.
“The two parties have agreed to take measures (…) to strengthen strategic communication, properly manage differences, avoid conflicts and confrontations,” the ministry statement said.
Biden’s call with Xi in September ended a nearly seven-month gap in direct communication between the leaders, and the two discussed the need to ensure that their competition does not come into conflict.
The tension in US-China relations has been exacerbated recently by the Chinese military, which has carried out dozens of sorties near the autonomous island of Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory.
Biden said on Tuesday that he had spoken to Xi about Taiwan and that they had agreed to abide by the “Taiwan agreement”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday reiterated his concerns that Beijing is undermining regional peace and stability with its “provocative” action.
“We strongly urge Beijing to end its military, diplomatic and economic pressure and coercion directed against Taiwan,” said Blinken, who was in Paris for talks with French officials.
Reuters, Associated Press and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report