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US and China trade barbs after Blinken warns of need to respect global order or face a ‘more violent world’

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The first key meeting in the relationship that Blinken has called “the greatest geopolitical test of the 21st century” quickly deviated from the usual diplomatic clearing of the throat that takes place in front of the cameras before the actual meetings begin. While the two sides exchanged unusually intense comments, Blinken called back to the cameras to counter the comments of Chinese officials, especially their views on U.S. democracy, provoking an unexpected chain of rebuttals as each side responded to the statements of the others.

Blinken had initially said that the United States intends to defend “rule-based order” without which there would be a “much more violent world” and said Chinese activities in places like Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as its cyberattacks the US and the economic coercion of the American allies “threaten the rule-based order that maintains global stability. That is why they are not merely internal issues and why we feel obliged to raise these issues today here”.

China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, stepped back and warned the United States not to get involved in China’s “internal affairs,” which challenged the U.S.’s right to speak for other countries, accusing it of the US was the “champion” of cyberattacks and mocked US national stability.

“We believe it is important for the United States to change its own image and stop advancing its own democracy to the rest of the world,” Yang said, in lengthy initial statements. “A lot of people in the United States really have little confidence in U.S. democracy,” Yang said. “According to opinion polls, China’s leaders have the broad support of the Chinese people.”

Yang challenged U.S. claims to world leadership by saying that “the U.S. does not represent the world, it only represents the U.S. government,” before State Secretary Wang Yi weighed in to say that China would not accept the allegations. unjustified U.S. side “.

“Wait a second”

When Wang finished and the assistants began bringing the cameras out of the room, Blinken intervened, “Wait a second, please.” The top American diplomat signaled for the press to return. “Wait a second,” he said. “Director, State Councilor, given your extensive observations, let me add a few before I start work.”

The top US diplomat said that in calls with nearly 100 counterparts, “I felt deep satisfaction for the United States to return, that we were committed to our allies and partners. I also feel deep concern for some of your actions the government is taking “.

And then Blinken went to the internal whips of the US. A distinctive feature of U.S. leadership at home is “a constant search to, as we say, form a more perfect union. And that search, by definition, recognizes our imperfections and recognizes that we are not perfect,” Blinken said.

“We make mistakes. We, we have reversals, we take steps back. But what we have done throughout our history is to face these challenges, openly, publicly, transparently, without trying to ignore them, not trying to pretend that they do not exist,” he said. continue Blinken. “Sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s ugly. But every time we’ve come out stronger, better, more united as a country.”

Blinken referred to a meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden, when both were vice presidents. “At the time, Biden said it’s never a good bet to bet on the United States,” Blinken told Chinese officials. “And that’s still true today.”

Fighting words opened two days of meetings in Anchorage for what U.S. administration officials described as “a broader strategic conversation” on the broad range of U.S. concerns about Chinese behavior, as well as on areas of potential mutual interest.

Blinken and Sullivan had used their initial statements to underscore their interest in a global order and the concerns they have heard from allies about China’s behavior.

“Our administration is committed to leading with diplomacy to advance the interests of the United States and strengthen the norm-based international order,” Blinken said. “This system is not an abstraction. It helps countries resolve differences peacefully, effectively coordinate multilateral efforts and participate in global trade with the assurance that everyone follows the same rules. The alternative to a rule-based order is a world. in which reason and winners take it all in. And that would be a much more violent and unstable world for all of us. “

The message closely aligned with thematic administration officials had underscored the days leading up to the Alaska meeting: the United States will not move beyond the increasingly tough stance taken by the Trump administration on Beijing, but the U.S. Biden has said he plans to apply those tougher standards more effectively by working closely with allies, and will try to do so without internal divisions affecting the Trump administration or the former president’s calls, which many analysts say go undermine U.S. policy with China in the past.

“Sometimes you heard something in public, but you seemed to see something different: it came from other places,” a senior administration official said about the Trump administration. “One of the things we also have to demonstrate here is a sense of coordination and a kind of unified approach, which was not possible in the last administration.”

The White House made it clear that it was “important” that the meeting take place on U.S. soil and senior administration officials stressed that the presence of Blinken and Sullivan demonstrates a strong united front.

“This is a very deliberate and visual visual demonstration from the first moment that we believe is really important to help inform and shape the way China wants to interact with us,” a senior official told reporters this week and went add that “games that China has played in the past to divide us or try to divide us just won’t work here.”

Blinken will arrive in Alaska after one high profile trip to South Korea and Japan alongside U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. The top American diplomat used his visits to Seoul and Tokyo to emphasize the unity of the United States with its Asian allies. He too announced a number of sanctions against Hong Kong and Chinese officials for their actions in Hong Kong, underscoring the impatience of the United States in the face of growing aggression from Beijing.

Russia and China will meet next week

The meeting comes as Russia and China announced their own bilateral meeting next week, a show of diplomatic strength that highlights their growing cooperation. Moscow announced that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov would travel to South Korea to meet with officials as well.

U.S. officials have portrayed the Alaska meeting as a forum to convey their concerns directly to Chinese officials, “to show our counterparts that there is no difference between what we say in public and what we say in private.” , as Blinken said this week.

“It’s important to make sure we understand each other and, in particular, that our Chinese counterparts understand the concerns we have, we understand why so many countries are increasingly concerned about the actions that China is taking, once again, either with regard to people standing at home or some of their aggressive actions in the region, ”he said in an interview with TV Asahi on Wednesday.

These concerns range from China’s aggression in the South and East China Seas to its economic practices to its human rights abuses in Xinjiang, which the administration has said are genocide.

Thursday’s meeting is not expected to produce “specific negotiable deliveries” nor will there be a joint statement, the senior official said.

“This is really a one-time meeting,” the official said. “It’s not about resuming a specific dialogue mechanism or starting a dialogue process.”

Blinken said last week that possible follow-up meetings “should really be based on the proposal that we are seeing tangible progress and tangible results on issues that concern us with China.”

“Beijing has been talking about its desire to change the tone of the relationship,” a second senior administration official told reporters.

“And, of course, we will look at facts and not words on this front, and of course we will go to these discussions with a very clear view of the (poor People’s Republic of China’s) poor track record of fulfilling its promises,” he said. say the official.

Blinken has called China “the biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century” and President Joe Biden has promised to “compete outside” with the country, but the administration has also said they will work with China where it is in the interest of states. United States do so, on issues such as climate change.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that it accepted the talks’ proposal as “a constructive gesture that shows our sincerity towards the resumption of dialogue and exchange between China and the US and the improvement and development of China-US relations “.

However, spokesman Zhao Lijian said the United States should not expect a change in the scope of the issues he considers to be internal issues.

“On issues affecting China’s sovereignty, security and basic interests, no one can expect China to make any commitment or commitments,” he said. “China is determined and determined to safeguard its basic interests.”

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