An editorial photograph of the USA and China flags.

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China’s foreign minister Wang Yi and U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan met in Malta over the weekend. The bilateral talks come ahead of a possible meeting between China’s President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders meeting in November.

Wang and Sullivan last met in Vienna. Their Malta meeting convened after several high level officials visited Beijing in recent months and just before Wang’s meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later this week.

China’s Foreign Ministry said Vice President Han Zheng will represent the country at the United Nations General Assembly this week in New York, suggesting Wang and Xi will not attend.

In readouts issued by the White House and China’s Foreign Ministry, the two-day talks in Malta were characterized as “candid, substantive and constructive.”

The White House said the meeting was part of ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication and responsibly manage the relationship, while the Chinese said the meeting was focused on stabilizing and improving Sino-U.S. relations. 

Wang and Sullivan discussed a number of issues, including: global and regional security, Russia’s war against Ukraine, the Korean peninsula and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

The apparent disappearances of China’s former foreign minister Qin Gang and defense minister Li Shangfu were not on Wang and Sullivan’s official agenda in Malta. Wang had re-assumed his former job as foreign minister after Xi removed his successor Qin from the position.

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