In a rare display of underlying tensions and mutual distrust, the first high level US-China talks of Biden Presidency got off to a fiery start in Alaska on Thursday with both sides leveling sharp rebukes of the others’ policies. China made it clear that it did not appreciate visits by high ranking officials to Japan, Korea and India prior to talks in Anchorage, Alaska.
The Biden administration has made clear that it is looking for a change in behavior from China, which has expressed hope to reset relations that had worsened drastically under former President Donald Trump. Normally such top level interactions commence with a short opening remarks in front of journalists, but in Anchorage, it extended to more than an hour with each sides trading charges at each other.
But the two sides appeared primed to agree on very little at the talks. China’s actions “threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the opening of the two-day meeting in Anchorage. “China is firmly opposed to US interference in China’s internal affairs. We have expressed our staunch opposition to such interference, and we will take firm actions in response,” his counterpart Yang Jiechi responded. Wang denounced the latest US sanctions against senior Chinese officials over what Washington considers Beijing’s quashing of Hong Kong’s freedoms, announced on the eve of the talks.
Putting aside the diplomatic niceties, US directly accused China of Human Rights violations when Blinken told the Chinese Communist Party’s top diplomacy official, Yang Jiechi, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. “ USA will discuss our deep concerns with actions by China, including Xinjiang,” where Washington has accused Beijing of “genocide” against Uyghur Muslims. He added, China’s actions “threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability.”
Both sides accused the other of violating diplomatic protocol, “The Chinese delegation … seems to have arrived intent on grandstanding”, a US official told reporters at the venue. USA had also announced a flurry of sanctions on Chinese Companies as well as updated sanctions on China over rollback of democracy in Hong Kong. Yang made it a point to question Blinken whether the sanctions were announced prior to the meeting on purpose.
Analysts feel that neither side have gained anything from the talks and the meeting is a total failure.