The US State Department confirmed the meeting yesterday, according to reports, following days of speculation surrounding the secretive discussion after anonymous sources claimed it would happen.
The two high-ranking officials met yesterday at the Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii to discuss a range of issues affecting the two countries.
Mike Pompeo has been critical of China throughout the pandemic.
The US State Department did not confirm what was discussed or what it would mean for relations between the US and China.
However, sources claimed last week that topics likely to be discussed included the coronavirus pandemic as well as arms control, trade, the Hong Kong situation, and more.
It’s believed Pompeo set off for the meeting on Tuesday this week.
Reuters reports that the meeting was the first time that the US Secretary of State has had contact with Yang since April 15, when the two discussed the Covid-19 pandemic over the phone.
Pompeo met Yang Jiechi, a senior Chinese official, yesterday.
Despite the troubled relationship between the US and China, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told a congressional hearing that Chinese officials had confirmed they were committed to buying more US goods as part of a Phase One trade deal signed by the two countries at the start of this year, Reuters adds.
Pompeo has been one of the Trump administration’s most outspoken critics of China throughout the pandemic, using heated rhetoric regarding China’s handling of – and responsibility regarding – the Covid-19 outbreak.
He has accused the Chinese government of spreading disinformation about the virus, CNN reports.
And last Tuesday Pompeo released a statement in which he warned of China’s “attempted coercion” of the UK.
READ: Pompeo to meet with Chinese official in secret meeting
In it, the US Secretary of State claimed that Beijing uses British bank HSBC as “political leverage” against the UK.
Pompeo wrote: “Beijing’s aggressive behaviour shows why countries should avoid economic overreliance on China and should guard their critical infrastructure from CCP influence.”
He also referred to Chinese technology giant Huawei of being “an extension of the Chinese Community Party’s surveillance state”.
Meanwhile, the US Department of State also yesterday released a joint statement from the governments of the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain, and the European Union regarding the situation in Hong Kong.
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Pompeo has claimed that China has used HSBC as ‘leverage’ against the UK.
The statement set out to highlight the nations’ “grave concern” regarding China’s decision to impose a new and controversial national security law on Hong Kong.
It laid out concerns that the new law would threaten the freedoms that the population of Hong Kong enjoys due to its ability to self-govern despite technically being part of China. This is referred to as autonomy.
The statement reads: “The proposed national security law would risk seriously undermining the “One Country, Two Systems” principle and the territory’s high degree of autonomy.
Beijing has sparked unrest in Hong Kong in the past by trying to impose rules on the region.
“It would jeopardise the system which has allowed Hong Kong to flourish and made it a success over many years.
“Open debate, consultation with stakeholders, and respect for protected rights and freedoms in Hong Kong are essential.
“We are also extremely concerned that this action would curtain and threaten the fundamental rights and freedoms of all the population protected by the rule of law and the existence of an independent justice system.”