ANCHOR – Even ahead of the Biden government’s first face-to-face meeting with senior Chinese diplomats on Thursday, American officials predicted the discussions would not go well. You were right: the traditional few minutes of opening greetings and remarks dissolved into more than an hour of very public verbal struggle, confirming the expected tone of confrontation between the geopolitical rivals.
US officials said the two days of talks would continue, but immediately accused the Chinese delegation of violating the format for the sensitive discussions that sought to find common ground amid the many points of conflict between them.
Yang Jiechi, China’s top diplomat, accused the United States of taking a “condescending” approach to the talks, saying the American delegation had no right to accuse Beijing of human rights abuses or to speak on the virtues of democracy.
At one point, he said the United States would do well to resolve its own “deep-seated” problems, particularly pointing out the Black Lives Matter movement against American racism. Second, after it appeared that the opening speech had ended and journalists were initially asked to leave the room to allow deeper discussions to begin, Mr. Yang accused the United States of inconsistent advocacy of a free press.
“I don’t think the vast majority of countries in the world would recognize the universal values held by the United States or that the opinions of the United States could represent international public opinion,” Yang said through an interpreter. “And these countries would not recognize that the rules serve as the basis for international order for a small number of people.”
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken seemed surprised, but took on a more determined tone. He opened the talks by claiming that the diplomacy of the Biden administration was intended to “advance the interests of the United States and strengthen the rules-based international order.”
“The alternative to a rule-based order is a world in which it can be right and the winners take over everything,” said Blinken. “And that would be a far more violent and unstable world for all of us.”
But after protracted comments from Mr. Yang, which American officials cited as violating an agreement that limited the opening speech to two minutes, Mr. Blinken asked about a dozen journalists to stand for his response.
In an implicit opposition to China, Mr Blinken said the United States had a long history of openly confronting its shortcomings “not trying to ignore them, not pretending that they didn’t exist, they under the rug, too sweep “. And he recalled a meeting between Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Xi Jinping more than a decade ago when both men who now run their respective countries were vice presidents.
“It is never a good bet to bet against America,” Mr Biden said at the time, according to Mr Blinken, who added: “That remains true to this day.”
When the journalists were again told to leave after the American response, Mr. Yang turned directly to the television cameras and said in English, “Wait.” He then began another lengthy criticism of US policy.
Within an hour, Beijing’s diplomats repeatedly criticized the new economic sanctions that were imposed on 24 Chinese officials on the eve of the talks. “This is not how you should welcome your guests,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
The sanctions punished Chinese officials who the Biden government said had undermined democracy in Hong Kong by rewriting the territory’s electoral laws and promoting changes through the smooth, Communist Party-controlled legislature. Biden administration officials had previously said the sanctions were not deliberately planned to affect talks in Anchorage.
But they clearly insulted the Chinese diplomats, who they used as evidence that the diplomatic overture was not intended to establish ground rules for a bilateral understanding of each capital’s priorities, but rather to provide the United States with a platform on which to embarrass Beijing can be.
The title, which a high-ranking US official later described as “outstanding” by the Chinese for his domestic audience, left little doubt that little would be achieved with the diplomatic discussions.
Following an often conflicting strategy for dealing with China over the past four years, President Donald J. Trump’s desire for a trade deal opposes punishing Beijing for rampant abuse of minority Uyghurs, military aggression in regional waters and refusal to address the problem Address Immediately Challenges Coronavirus Outbreak – The Biden government has attempted a fresh approach.
The new policy towards China is largely based on economic and diplomatic competition, but is also ready to take turns working together or confronting Beijing if necessary. The discussions in Anchorage should provide a basis for this approach.
It is now unclear how much cooperation will be possible between the two nations, although it will be necessary to achieve a variety of common goals, including limiting Iran’s nuclear program and North Korean weapon systems.
Senior government officials in Biden had previously joked that hopes of much progress in the talks were so low that it would be more efficient for both sides to simply fax their respective discussion points.