China-US hold ‘constructive’ talks in Switzerland 7-months after acrimonious Alaska meeting

Top diplomats from China and the US held talks in Switzerland amid heightened tensions between the two countries over a range of issues.

China has said that talks with the US was ‘constructive’ as its top diplomat and in-charge of China’s Foreign Policy Yang Jiechi met with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Wednesday in Zurich.

As per a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement on Thursday, Yang highlighted the importance of positive gestures by Washington in improving the atmosphere and the two sides agreeing to a virtual summit between their Presidents near the end of this year.

This is the second time in Biden Administration that senior officials of both countries met, seven months after their previous meeting in March, in Anchorage, Alaska, was marred by confrontations on various counts.

The Chinese statement said that Yang and Sullivan had shared “comprehensive, frank and in-depth exchanges”, and that the meeting had been “constructive and conducive to enhancing mutual understanding”.

Seven months earlier in Alaska, Yang had lashed out at the US, saying it was not entitled to talk to China from a “position of strength”.

A statement released by China after that meeting expressed Beijing’s anger with US criticisms of its governance system and other areas such as its handling of Hong Kong.

During six hours of talks in Zurich, differences over a wide range of issues were expressed but both sides vowed to maintain communication.

The Chinese statement said that the talks covered the issues of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet, human rights and maritime disputes.

Tensions have risen over Taiwan in the past week, with 56 Chinese military planes entering its air defence identification zone on Monday – the largest number yet in a single day.

Yang was quoted as saying that Beijing opposed seeing China-US relations as “competition” while US said the meeting was intended to responsibly manage the competition between the two sides

While Chinese media coverage of this week’s high-level meeting with US officials struck a much more positive note, highlighting the possibility of “mutual gains”, than it did after the previous meeting in March, experts are taking cautious approach.

As quoted in local media, many termed it merely a partial rebound over trade and other aspects but may not alleviate tensions over issues such as human rights.

“China attaches importance to President Biden’s recent positive statements on Sino-US relations,” Yang was quoted as saying by a Chinese government statement. “China has noted that the US has stated that it has no intention of containing China’s development and will not engage in a ‘new cold war’.

In a speech at the United Nations in September, Biden had said the US was “not seeking a new cold war or a world divided into rigid blocs”. “It hopes that the US will adopt a rational and pragmatic policy towards China and work with China to respect each other’s core interests and major concerns.”

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