US, China wrap up high-level Alaska talks after bitter opening exchanges

WION Web Team
Alaska, United States of America Published: Mar 20, 2021, 08:41 AM(IST)

Alaska talks Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, standing beside Sullivan, said he was not surprised that the United States got a "defensive response" from China after it raised its concerns over Chinese human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, as well as over cyberattacks and pressure on Taiwan.

Senior US and Chinese officials have concluded the talks in Alaska which laid bare the depth of tensions between the world's two largest economies at the outset of the Biden administration.

The run-up to the talks in Anchorage followed visits by US officials to allies Japan and South Korea.

"We expected to have tough and direct talks on a wide range of issues, and that's exactly what we had," White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters Friday moments after the Chinese delegation left the hotel meeting room -- without speaking to reporters.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, standing beside Sullivan, said he was not surprised that the United States got a "defensive response" from China after it raised its concerns over Chinese human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, as well as over cyberattacks and pressure on Taiwan.

But Blinken said the two sides also had intersecting interests on Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, and climate change.

Also read | 'Abandon Cold War mentality': US, Chinese officials clash during talks in Alaska

"On economics, on trade, on technology, we told our counterparts that we are reviewing these issues with close consultation with Congress, with our allies and partners, and we will move forward on them in a way that totally protects and advances the interests of our workers and our businesses," Blinken said.

Diplomats from the two sides exchanged pointed opening remarks on Thursday. While Blinken spoke about China's challenge to a rules-based international order, China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi lashed out with a speech criticising US democracy, and foreign and trade policies.

The United States accused China of "grandstanding" for its domestic audience, and both sides suggested the other had broken diplomatic protocol.
The rebukes played out in front of cameras, but a senior US administration official told reporters that as soon as media had left the room, the two sides "immediately got down to business" and held substantive and direct talks.

While much of President Joe Biden's China policy is still being formulated, including how to handle the tariffs on Chinese goods implemented by his predecessor Donald Trump, his administration has so far placed a stronger emphasis on democratic values and allegations of human rights abuses by China.

Biden has partially staked his approach on China to rebuilding American domestic competitiveness, and several top Republicans, whose cooperation will be crucial to the success of those plans, backed his administration in the face of the heated exchanges from the first day of talks.

China's social media carried comments saying Chinese officials were doing a good job in Alaska, and that the US side lacked sincerity.

Also, China on Friday put a Canadian citizen on trial on spying charges, and potentially plans to hold the trial of another Canadian on Monday, cases embroiled in a wider diplomatic spat between Washington and Beijing.

Also read | China concludes trial of Canadian accused of espionage behind closed doors

State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter reiterated US.calls for China to release the two men, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, from "arbitrary and unacceptable" detention during a regular briefing in Washington.

The Chinese military also banned Tesla cars from entering its housing complexes, citing security concerns over the cameras installed on the vehicles, according to two people who saw notices of the directive.

(with inputs)

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