B.Both sides knew what would happen at this encounter. The first high-profile meeting between the United States and the People’s Republic of China since the change of power in Washington was not a diplomatic restart from the outset. The American side made this clear not least by imposing sanctions on 24 other politicians and officials from China shortly before the meeting – because of Beijing’s Hong Kong policy. So no one could have any illusions about the little summit of Anchorage.
Political correspondent for North America based in Washington.
When US Secretary of State Antony Blinken sat across from Yang Jiechi, the highest-ranking foreign politician of the Communist Party of China, at the long white conference table in the largest city in the state of Alaska on Thursday, diplomatic formulas did not last long. Blinken initially said the American government is committed to leading with diplomacy, promoting the interests of the United States, and strengthening the rules-based world order. This is not something abstract: it helps to resolve conflicts between states peacefully and to participate in international trade – with the certainty that everyone obeys the rules of the game.
The alternative to this is a world in which the stronger gets justice. That, so Blinken, would be a world in which there would be more violence. The talks will talk about the major concerns that Washington has with regard to Beijing – about dealing with the Uyghurs, about Hong Kong, about Taiwan, but also with a view to cyberattacks on America and the economic pressure China has on American allies exercise Then: This behavior threatens the rule-based order. Therefore, it cannot be seen as an internal matter.
China is counter-attacking
Blinken believed that it had taken the wind out of the sails of the Chinese side. But Yang was prepared. He generally turned against the attitude that America could still act as a beacon of democracy in the world – as if nothing had happened. He did not stop at, as usual, rejecting Washington’s interference in domestic affairs and accusing America of being the master of cyberattacks itself. Rather, he went on to counter-attack: China hoped America would make progress on human rights issues. It wasn’t a joke. Yang said his country had made headway in this field. And it is a fact that there are many human rights problems in the United States, which Washington admits.
Yang, who sat next to Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who was subordinate to him in the Chinese hierarchy, sprinkled salt on the American wound. Four years of Donald Trump have damaged America’s image in the world – from the racial problems to the attempt to prevent a peaceful change of power. America’s human rights challenges are deeply rooted, Yang said. They have not arisen seriously in the past four years. Let no one claim that America is back and that everything is all right again – that should mean. “Many people in America have little faith in American democracy,” announced Yang.
The Chinese foreign policy official made it clear, not only through his words, that China would not allow the United States to impose an agenda on it. Instead of the agreed two-minute opening statement, he spoke for more than 16 minutes. By breaking the protocol, he demonstratively displayed that new self-confidence that has been proclaimed in Beijing for weeks with the formula “the East is rising, the West is falling”. In the form modified by Yang, it sounded like this in Anchorage: “The United States is not qualified to speak to China from a position of strength.” In order to save ammunition for its counterattack, the Chinese government had its annual human rights report in America, usually published in mid-March, postponed until after the Alaska meeting. Beijing had already declared the situation in Hong Kong and Xinjiang as “non-negotiable” and “red lines” in advance.
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