On 6 October, a high-level meeting took place between China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi and the United States National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in Zurich, Switzerland. This six-hour conversation marked a successful first encounter after the confrontational Alaska summit in March this year – both parties have given positive remarks on the event. China’s Foreign Ministry considered it a constructive and honest exchange, and a US senior official briefed it as “the most in-depth conversation” between the two governments since Biden took office.
This Zurich meeting went smoothly, covering sensitive topics like human rights and other major issues relating to bilateral and global affairs. Although there was no tangible progress made during the exchange, it’s considered as a turning point of the frozen China-US relations.
The US official was impressed by an unusual “genuine back and forth” involved in the discussion that prompted Yang to move beyond their “talking points”, which is considered a challenge on lower-level meetings; Washington sees this meeting to be a “model for future encounters”.
Beijing also acknowledged that Biden has no intention to curtail China’s development or to wage a “new Cold War”; it was also pleased for Washington’s commitment to the “Taiwan agreement”, which is interpreted as One China Policy by the Chinese media. Another possible outcome of this high-level dialogue is a virtual summit between President Xi Jinping and Joe Biden before year’s end, with final details to be confirmed.
Despite media from both sides adopted a much more positive tone than when they were covering the Alaska talks, China criticises the US’s media for using “competition” and “responsibly manage competition” in their reports to indicate a competitive relationship rather than a mutually beneficial one between the two superpowers.