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US-China talks could end up inflaming trade tensions

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U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will address the two-day meeting with his Chinese counterparts Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi in Anchorage, Alaska, with plenty of luggage.

Former President Donald Trump spent much of his term raising tensions between the world’s two largest economies. It caused a bitter trade war that both parts have not yet completely disengaged. And he won some from China leading technology companies with crippling sanctions, largely out of concern that they pose a threat to U.S. national security.

For now, other political disputes are more likely to dominate the conversation in Anchorage, according to William Reinsch, a trade expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who served for 15 years as chairman of the National Council on Foreign Trade.

The two countries have recently clashed over a number of issues, including Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong, a former British territory, and allegations of widespread human rights abuses in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang.

China hopes the Alaska meeting will disengage trade policy and ultimately lead to a decline in U.S. tariffs, as well as its commitments to buy more U.S. goods. The United States is not ready to make concessions.

“I don’t think it has yet sunk into the president’s limited flexibility in light of the sharp shift in American public opinion against China and the strong demands in Congress from both sides of a line. hard against China, “Reinsch told CNN Business. “So trade and technology are still issues, but the rest of the issues, particularly human rights, are more important on the list right now.”

It is possible that Washington has already made sure that geopolitics will be the focus of the meeting. Earlier this week, the U.S. government sanctioned two dozen Chinese and Hong Kong officials after Beijing further restricted the ability of the people of the city to freely choose their leaders. Blinken too criticized China in a meeting with its counterparts in Tokyo on Tuesday, where he accused Beijing of threatening regional stability.

Neither party has indicated that they consider Anchorage to be a place to significantly change their relationship. The Biden administration has stressed that the summit is “a one-off meeting” that is “highly thought of as an initial discussion”. And Beijing has said it has no “high expectations” for the event.

“The minimization of hopes for the meeting reflects domestic policy (on the part of the United States, Biden wants to prevent it from seeming too soft with Beijing), but also the broader state of the relationship,” the group’s analysts wrote. Eurasia in a research note last week. “Neither the United States nor China is willing to make concessions that the other believes are necessary to significantly relax tensions.”

Meanwhile, human rights issues can exacerbate some of the major economic problems of pain.

The United States has already cited concerns about Xinjiang in last year’s decisions reduce imports from this region: an attempt to stop the entry into the American market of goods produced by forced labor. (Beijing he has long defended his repression in Xinjiang as needed to combat extremism and terrorism. And, contrary to the accusations that it forces them to enter labor camps, it states that its facilities are voluntary “training centers” where people learn professional skills, Chinese language and laws.)

“The Biden administration will link human rights with exports [and] technology sales, “said Alex Capri, a researcher at the Hinrich Foundation and a senior visiting member at Singapore National University.” Expect to see more export controls and sanctions against Chinese interests. “

Capri and others also say the United States will continue to do its best to separate parts of its economy from China. He noted Biden’s recent efforts to review U.S. supply chains, a move widely seen as a bet to ensure critical products and supplies are they are not bound to Beijing.

“Biden ‘s’ Build Back Better’ platform is actually a more consistent version of [Make America Great Again], when it comes to resurfacing and erasing strategic industries, “Capri told CNN Business, noting potential efforts to eliminate China from the supply chains of pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, batteries, rare earths and intelligence. artificial license as “just the beginning.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story mistaken Xinjiang’s location in China.

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