Here at our CUSEF blog, we share news, updates and stories about China and the United States. We provide more than a cursory glimpse of what’s going on between the two powers - here, we offer an in-depth look into their current state of affairs.

CUSEF Express

CUSEF Express - June 15, 2022

Daily highlights of developments that affect China and the U.S.
Daily highlights of developments that affect China and the U.S.

Yang, Sullivan meet in Luxembourg

  • The U.S.’s increasing containment and repression against China in all domains have put bilateral relations in a “very difficult situation,” top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi said (Ch/En) when meeting with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in Luxembourg on Monday. According to the White House, the 4.5-hour discussion was “candid, substantive, and productive,” a similar description to that of the Chinese side. Dialogue and cooperation remained what both sides advocated.
  • Like the meeting between General Wei Fenghe and Secretary Lloyd Austin, the Yang-Sullivan talks included discussions of the Taiwan issue and the security and openness in the Indo-Pacific region. On top of these, Sullivan also raised concerns about China’s veto of a U.S.-drafted resolution over additional sanctions on North Korea at the UN General Assembly. The National Security Advisor further suggested the North Korea issue is where the two countries could cooperate.
  • The two diplomats have met four times since Joe Biden became the U.S. President in 2021, and two of these meetings led to virtual summits on Nov. 16, 2021, and Mar. 18, 2022. The meeting on Monday was likely to pave the way for the third meeting between President Biden and President Xi Jinping as heads of state.
    • Mar. 18, 2021, in Anchorage, Alaska, the U.S. (Readout: China; Remarks: U.S.)
    • Oct. 6, 2021, in Zurich, Switzerland (Readouts: China, U.S.)
    • Mar. 14, 2022, in Rome, Italy (Readouts: China, U.S.)
    • Jun. 13, 2022, in Luxembourg (Readouts: China, U.S.)

China, U.S. disagree over Taiwan Strait status

  • In response to Bloomberg’s question about China’s alleged assertion that “the Taiwan Strait is not international waters,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said (Ch/En) that some countries used the term “international waters” to manipulate the discourse of the Taiwan issue. The spokesperson did not confirm or deny the allegation directly.
  • There probably will not be a clear answer to whether the Strait is “international waters” since the term is not defined by international law.
  • The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which came into effect in 1994, is at the center of contemporary international water regulations. In most situations, the Convention uses the low-water lines along a state’s coast, or baselines, as start lines in water area measurement. According to the Convention, with some exceptions, a country can claim the sea area beyond its territorial sea and within 200 nautical miles from the baselines as its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
  • The widest dimension of the Taiwan Strait is 220 nautical miles. Since China views Taiwan as part of its territory, it claims most of the Taiwan Strait as its EEZ.
  • However, the free passage of foreign vessels in EEZ, one of the top disputes in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, is not explicitly regulated. Although Article 38 of the UNCLOS stipulates that “all ships and aircraft enjoy the right of transit passage” in EEZs in straits, Article 39 states that the ships and aircraft that transit the straits should “refrain from any threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of States bordering the strait.” But it is unclear either who can define a “threat” or what is a “threat.”
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