Senior White House Official Meets with China’s Top Diplomat in Europe

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan is meeting with his Chinese counterpart in Europe as the U.S. seeks open lines of communication with China amid a strained relationship.

Sullivan and top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi decided late last week to hold face-to-face talks on Thursday, according to a diplomatic source who is familiar with the plan but asked not to be named when discussing the closed-door talks with VOA.

The White House National Security Council and the State Department did not respond to VOA’s requests for more details on the meeting.

The meeting comes as Washington and Beijing are preparing for more in-person engagements between their senior officials.

After the U.S. military shot down a Chinese spy balloon that drifted over the continental United State in February, Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed his planned trip to Beijing.

Last week, Blinken said he’s hopeful it can be rescheduled this year.

Meanwhile, Chinese Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao plans to hold talks with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in Washington next week, according to the diplomatic source.

On Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns met with Wang for the first time.

“We had an open and detailed discussion about the bilateral trade relationship,” Burns said in a tweet. “I stressed the need for fair and equitable treatment of American businesses in China.”

Both U.S. and Chinese officials have said there is a need to stabilize the fraught relationship between the world’s two largest economies, which has been strained over issues including security, trade, technology, Taiwan and the South China Sea.

On Wednesday, Blinken said the United States has “concerns” about the treatment of American companies under China’s new counterespionage law.

Several firms were raided recently by Chinese police in the name of national security, including consulting firm Capvision and corporate due diligence firm Mintz Group.

“It’s something that we talk to the Chinese about,” said Blinken during a joint press conference with Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares.

“China wants to have a positive business environment that attracts foreign investment” but “the actions that it takes with regard to those businesses will have a big impact,” Blinken added.

Bloomberg has reported that Wang and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai are likely to meet in person on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation ministerial meeting in Detroit later this month.

In June, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and China’s new Minister of National Defense Li Shangfu are expected to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue — a high-level Asia security summit — in Singapore. Chinese military has not accepted the U.S. proposal for a meeting between their defense chiefs on the margins of this annual gathering.

In a tweet, U.S. envoy to China Burns said he discussed “the necessity of stabilizing ties and expanding high-level communication” in a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang on Monday.

VOA’s Patsy Widakuswara contributed to this report.

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