In Anchorage, fiery discussions in first face-to-face meeting between Chinese officials and Biden administration

Senior Biden administration officials stressed that the Thursday meeting between U.S. Secretary...
Senior Biden administration officials stressed that the Thursday meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and their Chinese counterparts Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi is part of their larger approach to formulating their strategy toward China and the region.
Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 1:51 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The build up to the first face-to-face meetings between U.S. and Chinese officials under the Biden administration began several days ago in Washington, D.C. with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken saying he was going to lay out “in very frank terms,” the concerns the U.S has with China.

And he did.

The two countries are at odds over several issues including trade, the coronavirus pandemic, human rights in Tibet, Hong Kong and China’s western Xinjiang region and Taiwan.

After arriving in a snowy Anchorage, representatives from the two countries sat down for what will be two days of discussions inside the Hotel Captain Cook. Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan are meeting with Yang Jiechi, a member of China’s ruling Politburo, and Wang Yi, the foreign minister.

Blinken took off his black mask and welcomed the Chinese diplomats then he launched into his reasons for the meetings.

“The alternative to a rules-based order is a world in which might makes right and winners take all and that would be a far more violent and unstable world for all of us,” Blinken said.

Moments later, both countries would be trading barbs with each other over Black Lives Matter and lectures on democracy.

“We hope the U.S. will do better on human rights,” Jiechi, the Chinese Communist Party foreign affairs chief, said through an interpreter. “China has made steady progress on human rights and the fact is that there are many problems within the U.S. regarding human rights.”

Yang’s fiery opening remarks lasted more than 15 minutes.

“Many people within the U.S. actually have little confidence in the democracy of the U.S. and they have various views regarding the government of the U.S.,” Yang said. “In China, according to opinion polls, the leaders of China have the wide support of the Chinese people. The opinion polls conducted in the U.S. show that the leaders of China have the support of the Chinese people. No attempt to smear China’s social system would get anywhere. Facts have shown that such practices would only lead the Chinese people to rally more closely around the Communist party of China. And work steadily towards the goals that we have set for ourselves.”

The tongue lashing continued.

“China, certainly in the past, has not, and in the future, will not, accept the unwarranted accusations from the U.S. side,” he said.

The public discussions were supposed to end there and proceed to private talks, but Blinken called the cameras and reporters back to the room.

“What I’m hearing is very different from what you’ve described,” Blinken said. “I’m hearing, deep satisfaction, the U.S. is back, we’re reengaged with our allies and partners. I’m also hearing deep concern about some of the actions your government has taken.”

Blinken continued saying China’s actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and cyber attacks on the U.S. are some of the reasons for the discussions.

“Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability,” Blinken said. “That’s why they’re not merely internal matters, and why we feel an obligation to raise these issues here today.”

He also acknowledge tensions within the country over racial injustice.

“We’re not perfect. We make mistakes. We have reversals. We take steps back,” Blinken said. “But what we’ve done throughout our history is to confront those challenges openly, publicly, transparently, not trying to ignore them, not trying to pretend they don’t exist, not trying to sweep them under a rug. And sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s ugly. But each and every time we have come out stronger, better, more united as a country.”

Blinken ended his remarks with a comment from a then Vice President Joe Biden: “‘It’s never a good bet to bet against America,’” Blinken said. “And that remains true today.”

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