I just finished Franklin Foer's new book, The Last Politician, which chronicles the first years of the Biden presidency – triumphs and defeats – through the eyes of Biden's inner circle. Most of the book's inside baseball gossip is uninteresting. Still, one noteworthy and recurring theme was how Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor, steered just about every issue of consequence for the Biden presidency: COVID-19, China, Afghanistan, economic policy, and so on.
Sullivan has not slowed down and is now responsible for managing the US-China relationship in the lead-up to the Biden-Xi meeting later this month.
On a recent call, Sullivan and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi discussed a range of global issues – including, most notably, condoning China's "dangerous and unlawful actions" in the South China Sea while simultaneously encouraging the need for stability in Taiwan.
As Sullivan learned from his mentor, diplomacy – getting to a soft yes and avoiding a hard no – is more art than science.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met today with People’s Republic of China Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Washington, D.C.
National Security Advisor Sullivan and Director Wang had candid, constructive, and substantive discussions on key issues in the U.S.-China bilateral relationship, the Israel-Hamas conflict, Russia’s war against Ukraine, and cross-Strait issues, among other topics.
National Security Advisor Sullivan discussed concerns over China’s dangerous and unlawful actions in the South China Sea. He raised the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
The two sides reaffirmed their desire to maintain this strategic channel of communication and to pursue additional high-level diplomacy, including working together towards a meeting between President Biden and President Xi Jinping in San Francisco in November.
National Security Advisor Sullivan expressed his condolences on the passing of former Premier Li Keqiang.