WASHINGTON, United States -- White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi over the weekend, officials said Sunday, in the latest effort to ease tensions between the superpowers.
Sullivan and Wang met in the Mediterranean island nation of Malta on Saturday and Sunday, according to a White House statement.
"This meeting was part of ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication and responsibly manage the relationship," the statement said.
President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have not talked or met since a summit in Bali last year but US officials say they are working to renew contact between the two leaders.
A string of high-level US officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, have met recently with Chinese officials to prepare a possible Xi-Biden meeting.
The White House said Sullivan and Wang "committed to maintain this strategic channel of communication and to pursue additional high-level engagement."
A Chinese government statement on the Malta meeting largely echoed the US version, saying "the two sides conducted candid, substantive and constructive strategic communication."
Wang brought up the issue of Taiwan -- a self-governing, democratic island that China claims but which also receives strong US support -- as a "red line that cannot be crossed in Sino-US relations."
"The United States noted the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," according to the White House readout.
A senior US official speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity stressed the effort to lessen tensions with Beijing.
Sullivan "underscored that the United States and the PRC (China) are in a competition but that the United States does not seek conflict or confrontation," the official said.
Sullivan also assured Wang that US support for Taiwan does not extend to backing the island's independence from China, the official said. However, he indicated that the United States opposes "unilateral changes to the status quo from either side."