The White House summary also said Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Wang agreed that the two governments would “pursue additional high-level engagement and consultations in key areas.” In recent weeks, U.S. officials have said they were trying to set up a meeting between President Biden and Xi Jinping, China’s leader, on the sidelines of an international summit in San Francisco in November. However, recent developments, especially within the Chinese government and the party, have cast doubt on whether that would happen.
Questions are swirling around recent purges within the top levels of the Chinese government and the Communist Party. U.S. officials determined last week that Gen. Li Shangfu, the Chinese defense minister, who had not made any public appearances or pronouncements since late August, had been placed under investigation for corruption. In July, Mr. Xi abruptly ousted Qin Gang, the foreign minister, and announced that Mr. Wang, who had held that minister post before being promoted to the top foreign policy job within the party, would take over Mr. Qin’s duties.
U.S. intelligence agencies have been working hard to try to glean insights into the current conflicts within the leadership ranks, as part of a much broader espionage shadow war and intelligence collection campaign between the United States and China.
Mr. Biden has made an effort since the spy balloon crisis early this year to try to have his top officials engage in high-level diplomacy with counterparts in Beijing to establish stability in relations, no matter how slight.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken traveled to Beijing in June for two days of meetings, mainly separate talks with Mr. Xi, Mr. Wang and Mr. Qin, after canceling a trip during the balloon episode in early February. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen went to Beijing soon afterward. She was followed by John Kerry, the special climate envoy, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.