Home Featured Jake Sullivan touts successes of Biden administration’s China policy
Jake Sullivan touts successes of Biden administration’s China policy

Jake Sullivan touts successes of Biden administration’s China policy

by host

Sullivan pointed to the creation of a U.S.-China Counternarcotics Working Group that had its
first meeting Tuesday
in Beijing, the resumption of bilateral
military-to-military contacts
, and an agreement to discuss safe development of artificial intelligence as evidence of the value of that approach.

“Critics said at the time that this travel was one-sided — but our strategy was to use those meetings to open up a two-way flow of exchanges, and that’s exactly what happened,” Sullivan said at
a Council on Foreign Relations event
. That “intensive interaction” with China will continue in 2024 with Biden playing a key role.

Sullivan and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi
agreed in their meetings
in Bangkok, Thailand, last week that “there really is no substitute for leader-to-leader conversation — both of us agreed that we would report back to our leaders and we would get them on the phone sooner rather than later,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan’s speech marked the third briefing in four days in which senior administration officials have lauded the positive impact of their China engagement. That messaging campaign is an explicit push-back on high profile GOP detractors of that approach including Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), chair of the House Select Committee on China, who has
christened that effort “zombie engagement
.”

The Biden administration is also keen to tout a diplomatic thaw with its biggest strategic competitor at a time of worsening tensions in the Middle East sparked by the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel. The Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen has snarled Red Sea shipping lanes with
ongoing missile and drone attacks
that have continued
despite U.S. and British airstrikes
. The risk of a wider regional conflict pulling in the U.S. rose after a
drone attack by Iranian proxies
killed three U.S. soldiers on a base in Jordan on Sunday. That prompted Blinken to warn on Monday that regional volatility was
at its highest point since 1973
.

A senior administration official
admitted last week
that Sullivan had failed to persuade Yi to use China’s
economic influence on Iran
— which
funds and equips
the Houthis — to stem the threat to
global supply chains
. The administration also remains concerned about
China’s “no limits” partnership
with Moscow and possible moves by Beijing to directly support Moscow’s war effort against Ukraine.

“We have not seen the provision of lethal aid but … we have seen support from Chinese companies to help Russia reconstitute its defense industrial base,” said Sullivan.

That’s a concern for the administration “because we believe that Russia’s defense industrial base is basically building up to continue to support an imperial war of conquest in Europe, and that’s a fundamental national security interest of the United States,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said that Beijing can also expect the administration to fine-tune China-targeted export restrictions on high technology semiconductors. “As the technology evolves, our controls have to evolve,” Sullivan said.

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