Sci-tech

China talks get off to a rough start

China talks get off to a rough start”

The United States, which quickly accused China of "grandstanding" and violating the meeting's protocol, had been looking for a change in behaviour from China, itself having expressed earlier this year a hope to reset sour relations.

The gathering follows a flurry of diplomatic activity between the United States and countries in the Indo-Pacific that share concerns over China's growing assertiveness in the region.

The meeting included U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi, director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party.

"Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability", Mr Blinken said of China's actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and of cyber attacks on the United States and economic coercion against USA allies. "These unfair practices directly hurt USA farmers and producers, as China treats them as pawns in its quest for global influence", said the lawmakers in their letter addressed jointly to Biden, Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

Mr Yang responded with a 15-minute speech in Chinese while the U.S. side awaited translation, lashing out about what he said was the United States' struggling democracy, poor treatment of minorities, and criticising its foreign and trade policies. They accused the United States of making a "groundless attack on China's domestic and foreign policies".

"The United States uses its military force and financial hegemony to carry out long-arm jurisdiction and suppress other countries", he reportedly said.

"It abuses so-called notions of national security to obstruct normal trade exchanges, and incite some countries to attack China", he added.

In return, Chinese state media called the U.S.

There may have been a certain amount of posturing involved, as a U.S. official said the private conversation that followed was substantive and serious. For more than an hour, top officials traded barbs at what would normally be a photo-opahead of a two day meeting in Anchorage, Alaska.

But it is unclear whether the two countries can come up with any agreements, with a senior USA administration official denying prospects of releasing a joint statement after the talks.

The State Department also accused the Chinese delegation of exceeding the time limit for opening statements and suggested it seemed "intent on grandstanding, focused on public theatrics and dramatics over substance".

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 United States president Donald Trump.

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USA officials told reporters ahead of the trip that Blinken and Sullivan would emphasize US concerns over China's "increasingly aggressive activities across the Taiwan Strait" and other issues China considers internal matters, such as its treatment of Uyghur Muslims and control over Taiwan.

The BBC's Barbara Plett Usher says the talks are the first chance for the Biden administration to show how it intends to deal with what Mr Blinken has called "the biggest geopolitical test of the 21st Century".

But the two sides appear primed to agree on very little at the talks, which were expected to run into the Anchorage evening and continue on Friday. The US side rejected that, calling it a one-off session.

"Each of these actions threatens the rules-based order that maintains global stability", he said.

"It commits horrific genocide against its own Uyghur population, attacks Hong Kong's democracy, engages in unwarranted combat at the India-China Line of Actual Control, and incessantly increases the militarization of the Taiwan Strait".

The four top officials are scheduled to meet three times over the next two days in conversations that "will be pretty tough", a senior administration official told reporters as temperatures dipped to 14 degrees outside Anchorage's Hotel Captain Cook, the venue for the conversations.

Blinken also unveiled sanctions against Hong Kong and Chinese officials for their ongoing crackdown in Hong Kong Wednesday.

"I'm hearing deep satisfaction that the United States is back, that we're reengaged", Mr Blinken retorted.

China, however, indicated this week that it is set to begin trials of two Canadians detained in December 2018 on spying charges soon after Canadian police detained Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of telecoms equipment company Huawei Technologies, on a U.S. warrant.

The Global Times, a Chinese government-affiliated media organisation, quoted a Chinese diplomat who said that what the American side did during the meeting was "neither hospitable nor good diplomatic etiquette". Conflicts would extend to the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

While in Seoul, Blinken had urged China to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions, saying Beijing had a "clear self-interest" in doing so. Mr Wang has said that Beijing is ready to reopen "constructive dialogue".

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