US, China Hold Talks to Move Beyond Spy Balloon Incident

Image copyright: Xinhua/Shutterstock [via The Guardian]

The Facts

  • The White House on Thursday publicized a two-day meeting between National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi in Vienna this week. The White House said both sides reportedly had "candid" and "constructive" discussions on wide-ranging key issues.

  • Talks in the Austrian capital to stabilize relations between the two major powers, which have hit their lowest level since diplomatic ties were established in 1979, focused on US-China relations, global security issues, the Ukraine War, and Taiwan.


The Spin

Pro-China narrative

The fact that Washington is now seeking dialogue after months of escalation sends a positive signal, but skepticism is warranted given the level of hostility the US has recently shown. The key to restoring viable relations will be for Washington not to communicate with Beijing on one side and further exacerbate tensions on the other by undermining the PRC's sovereignty, security, and development interests. China has shown goodwill in the recent rounds of talks, and now it is up to the US to back up its words with action.

Anti-China narrative

The US-China talks are evidence of Washington's effort to rebuild the basis for dialogue with Beijing. So far, however, the PRC does not seem interested in better coordination with Washington on security issues, seeing it as another attempt to contain China's influence. The faction within China's power apparatus that wants to ensure that an event such as a maritime collision or a spy balloon does not escalate into an armed clash is shrinking. For dialogue to bear fruit, Beijing must overcome its unfounded mistrust of the US.


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