US official, Chinese counterpart holds talks amid effort to avert unintended conflict

STATE DEPARTMENT — Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Kurt Campbell is hosting China’s Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu in Washington on Thursday. The talks are aimed at maintaining open communication channels to prevent miscalculations and unintended conflicts, especially during times of tension.

Following two hours of face-to-face discussions, officials from the United States and the People’s Republic of China will have a working lunch at the State Department. Later in the afternoon, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer will continue discussions with Ma.

The visit by Ma Zhaoxu follows U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to Shanghai and Beijing in April. Officials said it builds on U.S.’s intensive diplomacy with the PRC to responsibly manage competition in the relationship, even in areas where the two countries disagree.  

“As we continue to take actions to protect our interests and values and those of our allies and partners, we are also using face-to-face diplomacy with the PRC to clearly and directly communicate our positions and intentions, and make progress on bilateral, regional, and global issues that matter to the American people and the world,” a State Department spokesperson told VOA.  

A spokesperson from PRC’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Ma will also “interact and communicate with representatives from various sectors in the U.S.” during his visit to the U.S. from May 30 to June 2.

While in Beijing last month, Blinken voiced “serious concern” regarding China’s support for Russia’s defense industry, warning Chinese leaders that Washington could impose sanctions over the matter.

China has defended its approach to Russia, saying it is only engaged in normal economic exchanges with a major trading partner. 

Wednesday, Campbell renewed the U.S. warnings. He said Chinese support was helping to revitalize Russia’s military capabilities, including long-range missiles, artillery, drones and battlefield tracking.

During his visit to Brussels, the State Department’s second-highest diplomat emphasized the urgent need for European and NATO countries “to send a collective message of concern to China about its actions, which we view are destabilizing in the heart of Europe.”

The latest U.S.-China talks occur just days after China conducted a large-scale, two-day military exercise involving 111 aircraft and 46 naval vessels around Taiwan. Washington has strongly urged Beijing to exercise restraint and has reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for China and Taiwan Mark Lambert met virtually with PRC’s Director-General for Boundary and Ocean Affairs Hong Liang on May 23.  During this meeting, Lambert expressed profound concerns regarding People’s Liberation Army joint military drills in the Taiwan Strait and around Taiwan.  

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