ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Senior officials from the United States and China offered sharply different views of each other and the world Thursday when the two sides met face to face for the first time since President Joe Biden took office.
In unusually direct public statements for a serious diplomatic meeting, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Communist Party foreign affairs chief Yang Jiechi pointed to each country’s policies at the start of two days of talks in Alaska. The contentious tone of his public comments suggested that private discussions would be even more complicated.
The meetings in Anchorage were a further test in the increasingly contentious relations between the two countries, which are at odds on a variety of issues from trade to human rights in Tibet, Hong Kong and China’s western Xinjiang region. , as well as on the assertiveness of Taiwan, China. in the South China Sea and the coronavirus pandemic.
Blinken said the Biden administration is united with its allies in rejecting China’s growing authoritarianism and assertiveness at home and abroad. Later, Yang downloaded a list of Chinese complaints about the United States and accused Washington of hypocrisy for criticizing Beijing on human rights and other issues.
“Each of these actions threatens the rule-based order that maintains global stability,” Blinken said of China’s actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and of cyberattacks against the United States and economic coercion against its allies. “That is why they are not merely internal matters, and that is why we feel an obligation to raise these issues here today.”
National security adviser Jake Sullivan amplified the criticism, saying that China has launched an “assault on core values.”
“We do not seek conflict, but we welcome stiff competition,” he said.
Yang responded angrily by demanding that the United States stop pushing its own version of democracy at a time when the United States itself has been plagued by internal discontent. He also accused the United States of failing to address its own human rights issues and disagreed with what it said was “condescension” of Blinken, Sullivan and other US officials.
“We believe that it is important that the United States change its own image and stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the world,” he said. “A lot of people within the United States actually have little confidence in the democracy of the United States.”
“China will not accept unwarranted accusations from the US side,” he said, adding that recent events have 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 on his just-concluded trip to Japan and South Korea were completely different from the Chinese position.
“I am hearing deep satisfaction at the return of the United States, because we are once again engaged,” Blinken replied. “I also hear deep concern about some of the actions your government is taking.”
Underscoring the animosity, the State Department criticized the Chinese delegation for violating an agreed two-minute time limit for opening remarks and suggested that it “seems (ed) to have come with the intention of being bombastic, focused on public theatricality. and the dramaturgy on the substance “.
“America’s approach will be based on trust in our dealings with Beijing, which we are doing from a position of strength, even if we have the humility to know that we are a country that is eternally striving to become a more perfect union.” He said.
Ties between the United States and China have been severed for years, and the Biden administration has yet to indicate whether it is ready or willing to move away from the hard-line positions taken under Donald Trump.
Just one day before the meeting, Blinken had announced new sanctions for Beijing’s crackdown on democracy advocates in Hong Kong. In response, China stepped up its rhetoric opposing US interference in internal affairs and complained directly about it.
“Is this a decision made by the United States to try to gain some advantage in dealing with China?” State Councilor Wang Yi asked. “Certainly this is miscalculated and only reflects the vulnerability and weakness within the United States and will not affect China’s position or solve those problems.”
Trump 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 around the world, unleashing an economic and public health disaster.
Lee reported from Washington.