US, China discuss security issues, Ukraine

In Rome earlier this year, Jake Sullivan had conveyed Washington’s ‘deep concerns about China’s alignment with Russia’, and warned Yang Jiechi of ‘significant consequences’ should China choose to support Russia.
Yang Jiechi, a Chinese Communist Party politburo member and director of the foreign affairs commission (left) meets with US national security adviser Jake Sullivan (right) in Rome, Italy, on March 14, 2022. (AP)
Yang Jiechi, a Chinese Communist Party politburo member and director of the foreign affairs commission (left) meets with US national security adviser Jake Sullivan (right) in Rome, Italy, on March 14, 2022. (AP)
Updated on May 18, 2022 11:47 PM IST
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WASHINGTON: The United States and China held a high level discussion on “regional security issues and non-proliferation” on Wednesday, in what marks a continuation of the dialogue between the two sides that began in the wake of Russian invasion of Ukraine.

According to a White House statement, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi - a Chinese Communist Party politburo member and director of the foreign affairs commission.

“This phone call, which followed their March 14 meeting in Rome, focused on regional security issues and non-proliferation. Mr Sullivan and Director Yang also discussed Russia’s war against Ukraine and specific issues in US-China relations,” said the statement.

In Rome, during a seven-hour long conversation, Sullivan had conveyed Washington’s “deep concerns about China’s alignment with Russia”, and warned Yang of “significant consequences” should China choose to support Russia.

US President Joe Biden also spoke to China’s president Xi Jinping in March. Speaking to reporters about China’s possible support for Russia, Biden had said, “I think that China understands that its economic future is much more closely tied to the West than it is to Russia. And so I am hopeful that he does not get engaged.”

While Ukraine, according to the readout, figured in the conversation on Wednesday, the reference to regional security issues and non-proliferation indicates that North Korea was a subject of discussion, as was the geopolitical landscape in Asia.

The US has adopted a clear adversarial policy position vis-a-vis China. This has taken the form of a continuation of trade restrictions imposed during the Donald Trump presidency, criticism of China’s human rights record, the appointment of an Indo-Pacific coordinator in the National Security Council, the elevation of Quad, the emergence of Aukus (a partnership between the US, United Kingdom and Australia), and discussions on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

At the same time, the US has also kept open its channels of communication with China to what it calls “responsibly manage competition” and install guardrails to ensure competition did not descend into conflict.


    Prashant Jha is the Washington DC-based US correspondent of Hindustan Times. He is also the editor of HT Premium. Jha has earlier served as editor-views and national political editor/bureau chief of the paper. He is the author of How the BJP Wins: Inside India's Greatest Election Machine and Battles of the New Republic: A Contemporary History of Nepal.

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