Here are the highlights of the fierce US-China exchanges in Alaska
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (center) watches the opening session of the U.S.-China Talks on March 18, 2021 at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska.
Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images
Talks between the US and China got off to a bad start on Thursday. Both sides rebuked and rebuked each other in an unusual public area of tension.
The meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, was the first high-level meeting between the two countries under the administration of President Joe Biden and took place in more than two years of rocky relations between the two countries.
What was originally intended as a four-minute photo shoot lasted over an hour as both sides traded barbs on U.S.-China relations for concerns from Washington’s allies. Reporters were told not to leave as both sides wanted to add their rebuttals.
At the head of the US delegation were Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi, Director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China, led the Chinese delegation.
Here are some excerpts and highlights of the meeting:
On relations between the United States and China
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken:
I said that US relations with China will be competitive where they should be cooperative. Words can be controversial where they need to be. I suspect our discussions here in Alaska will set the tone. Our intention is to speak directly about our concerns and priorities with the aim of a clearer relationship between our countries in the future.
… I have to tell you that in my short time as Foreign Minister I have spoken to almost 100 colleagues from all over the world. And I’ve just made my first trip to Japan and South Korea as I noticed. I have to tell you what I hear is very different from what you described. I hear deep satisfaction that the United States is back, that we are reconnecting with our allies and partners. I also hear deep concern about some of the actions your government is taking.
China urges the US side to completely abandon the hegemonic practice of deliberately interfering in China’s internal affairs. This is a longstanding problem and should be changed.
Foreign Minister, China
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi:
China has certainly not accepted the unjustified allegations made by the US in the past and will not accept them in the future either. In recent years, China’s legitimate rights and interests have been completely suppressed, plunging China-US relations into a period of unprecedented difficulty.
… China urges the US side to completely abandon the hegemonic practice of deliberately interfering in China’s internal affairs. This is a longstanding problem and should be changed. It’s time for it to change.
The Chinese Director of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, Yang Jiechi
China and the United States are both important countries and both show important responsibilities. We must both contribute to world peace, stability and development in areas like Covid-19, restore economic activity in the world and respond to climate change.
There are many things we can do together and where our interests converge. So we need to give up the Cold War mentality and the zero-sum game approach.
Yang Jiechi (right), director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission for China, and Wang Yi (left), China’s foreign minister, meet for a meeting with US colleagues at the opening session of the US-China talks at Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage. Alaska on March 18, 2021.
Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images
At the concerns of the US and its allies
We will also discuss our deep concerns about actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyberattacks on the United States, and economic coercion against our allies. Each of these actions threatens the rules-based order that maintains global stability.
Jake Sullivan, US National Security Advisor:
State Secretary Blinken has set out many areas, from economic and military coercion to the attack on core values, which we will discuss with you today and in the days to come.
… We have heard each of these concerns from around the world, from our allies and partners, and the wider international community during the intensive consultations we have conducted over the past two months. We will make it clear today that our overriding priority on the United States’ side is to ensure that our approach to the world and our approach to China benefits the American people and protects the interests of our allies and partners.
We do not seek conflict, but we welcome fierce competition and will always stand up for our principles for our people and for our friends.
Vice President Biden said at the time that betting against America was never a good bet. And it remains that way to this day.
US Secretary of State
It is also important that we all come together to build a new kind of international relationship that involves fairness, justice and mutual respect. And on some regional issues, I think the problem is that the United States has had a long history of jurisdiction and repression and has overstretched itself.
… The United States itself does not represent international public opinion or the Western world. Whether judged by population scale or by world trends, the Western world does not represent global public opinion. So we hope that when the US side talks about universal values or US international public opinion, it will think about whether it feels comfortable saying these things because the US does not represent the world. It only represents the United States government.
About values and democracy
Secretary Blinken and I are proud of the story we can tell about America here, about a country that, under the leadership of President Biden, has made great strides to control the pandemic, save our economy, and gain strength and resilience our democracy to be affirmed. We are especially proud of the work we have done to reinvigorate our alliances and partnerships, the foundation of our foreign policy.
And the United States has its style, a United States-style democracy. And China has Chinese style democracy. It is not only for the American people but also for the people of the world to judge how the United States has advanced its own democracy. In China, after decades of reform and opening up in various areas, we have come a long way.
… We believe that it is important for the United States to change its own image and not advance its own democracy in the rest of the world. Indeed, many people in the United States have little faith in United States democracy and have different views about the United States government in China.
One of the hallmarks of our leadership and our commitment in the world are our alliances and partnerships, which were built on a voluntary basis. And President Biden is committed to revitalizing and strengthening it. And there is another hallmark of our leadership here at home and that is an ongoing effort, as we say, to create a more perfect Union.
And that search, by definition, acknowledges our imperfections, that we are not perfect. We make mistakes. We have reversals, we take steps backwards. But what we have done throughout our history is to meet these challenges openly, publicly and transparently. I’m not trying to ignore it. I’m not trying to pretend they don’t exist. I’m not trying to sweep them under the rug. And sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s ugly. But every time we have become stronger, better and more united as a country.
I still remember when President Biden was Vice President and we were visiting China … and when Vice President Biden said it was never a good bet to bet against America. And it remains that way to this day.