In its first meeting face to face Since Joe Biden’s arrival at the White House, Chinese diplomatic officials and representatives of the United States government met on harsh terms Thursday at a meeting in Anchorage, Alaska. The talks will continue this Friday with a session behind closed doors, in which it is expected to be an even more tense round of discussions.
Practically from the first moment, the two sides exchanged reproachesThe United States accused the Chinese delegation of “grandstanding” for domestic consumption in China, and Beijing responded on Friday saying there was a “strong smell of gunpowder and drama” in the room and that it was only the fault of the Americans.
In unusually harsh remarks at a high-profile diplomatic meeting, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Communist Party Head Yang Jiechi attacked each other’s policies.
The Secretary of State of the United States, Antony Blinken. Photo: AP
The Anchorage summit, which will continue with a closed-door session on Friday, was yet another test in the increasingly contentious relations between the two nations, which are faced by a series of issues, from trade to human rights in Tibet, Hong Kong and the Chinese region of Xinjiang, to Taiwan, Beijing’s claims in the East China Sea and the coronavirus pandemic.
Blinken said the Biden government is united with its allies in rejecting China’s growing authoritarianism and aggressiveness both at home and abroad. Later, Yang presented a list of Beijing’s complaints about the United States and accused Washington of hypocrisy for criticizing his country on human rights and other issues.
“Each of these actions threatens the rules-based order that maintains global stability,” Blinken said of China’s actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and of cyber attacks on the United States and economic coercion against American allies. .
National security adviser Jake Sullivan broadened the criticism, saying China has launched an “assault on core values.” “We do not seek conflict, but we welcome stiff competition,” he explained.
The head of the Chinese Communist Party for Foreign Affairs, Yang Jiechi, photographed at the summit in Alaska. Photo: AP
Yang responded angrily demanding to America to stop pushing its own version of democracy at a time when the country itself has been shaken by internal discontent.
He also accused the United States of failing to address its own human rights issues and opposed what it called “condescension” on the part of Blinken, Sullivan and other US officials.
“We believe it is important that America change its own image and stop promoting your own democracy in the rest of the world, “he said.” A lot of people inside America really have little confidence in America’s democracy. “
“China will not accept unwarranted accusations from the United States,” he said, adding that recent events had plunged relations “into a period of unprecedented difficulty” that “has damaged the interests of our two peoples.” “There is no way to strangle China,” he said.
Blinken appeared to be annoyed by the tenor and length of the comments, which lasted for more than 15 minutes. He said that his impressions when speaking with world leaders and in his recently concluded trip to Japan and South Korea were totally different from the Chinese position.
The Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska, where the US-China talks take place. Photo: AP
“I am hearing a deep satisfaction for the return of the United States, for our new commitment,” replied Blinken. “I also hear a deep concern for some of the actions your government is taking“.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said later in Beijing that Blinken and Sullivan had provoked Chinese officials to give a “solemn response” after US officials made “unfounded attacks” against China.
“It was the American side that (…) sparked the dispute in the first place, so the two sides had a strong smell of gunpowder and drama early on in the opening remarks. It was not the original intention of the party. China, “Zhao told reporters in a daily briefing.
A senior official in the Biden administration said that despite the bitter public exposure of the differences, the initial discussions behind closed doors had been “substantial, serious and direct” and they lasted much more than the two hours anticipated.
Ties between the United States and China are traversed by tension for years, and the Biden administration has not yet signaled whether it is ready or willing to move away from the hard-line positions taken under Donald Trump.
Trump had prided himself on forging what he considered a strong relationship with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. But the relationship disintegrated after the coronavirus pandemic spread from Wuhan province to the entire world and unleash an economic and public health disaster.
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