Yang to meet Sullivan in Rome, sends 'positive sign' via high-level contact mechanism amid Russia-Ukraine crisis
Published: Mar 14, 2022 03:22 AM
China US


China's top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, will meet with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Monday in Rome to exchange views on China-US relations and international and regional issues of common interest. 

Experts said the scheduled Yang-Sullivan meeting, nearly four months after the virtual summit between the top leaders of the two countries, demonstrated the China-US high-ranking communication mechanism is stably running and is a positive sign to the world at current times.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict will also be high on the agenda and the US might expect China to play a mediator role over the crisis. However, the occasion cannot be used by the US to sow discord between China and Russia, experts said.

The key issue of this meeting is to implement the important consensus reached by the Chinese and US heads of state in their virtual summit in November 2021, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, announced on Sunday. 

China and the US have engaged to arrange the meeting between Yang, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, and Sullivan since the end of last year. Both sides have been in communication on the meeting and set a date and time, said Zhao. 

The White House said in a statement on Sunday that the two sides will discuss ongoing efforts to manage the competition between both countries and discuss the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on regional and global security. 

Monday's meeting was not set with urgency in response to an emergency but was planned long ahead by the two sides according to their own schedules, Diao Daming, associate professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

According to the statement of the White House, Sullivan will also meet with Luigi Mattiolo, Diplomatic Advisor to the Italian Prime Minister.

Diao said one important part of the discussion will be about whether the consensus reached by the two heads of China and the US in the meeting of November 2021, has been fulfilled and how the next step will be implemented. 

"The stably sustained high-ranking communication between China and the US, the two major powers whose relations have long affected the overall development of the world, will send positive signals to the world at this time," said Diao. 

Yang and Sullivan met in Zurich in October 2021, during which both parties had a "comprehensive and in-depth" exchange of views on China-US relations as well as international and regional issues of common concern. 

Lü Xiang, research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, mentioned that the issue of common concern for both China and the US now is the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. He highlighted that the key of this issue is the strategic confrontation between Russia and the US or NATO.

With a potentially intense conflict between Russia and the US, it is critical for the US to know China's position, and China also wants to know how the US will play the game under the current situation, Lü noted. 

He believes that the US might expect China to be a mediator with Russia but it cannot create discord in the relationship between China and Russia. 

"The meeting this time, unlike previous 2 plus 2 conferences where Blinken 'dug and back filled many holes' in China-US relations, will be a one-on-one negotiation of equals between Yang and Sullivan," Lü said, adding that "the US should calm down a bit and take a more reasonable view of bilateral relations and the global order."

Apart from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, other hot topics concerning regional or international relations, such as climate change, the Korean Peninsula issue and the Iranian nuclear deal, might also be discussed in Monday's meeting, according to Diao.