Tough Talk in Advance of Anchorage U.S.-China Meeting
March 17 , 2021 (EIRNS)—Unnamed U.S. “senior administration officials,” one from the National Security Council and the other from the State Department, briefed reporters on background last night on the Biden administration’s intentions for the first, face-to-face high-level talks between U.S. and Chinese officials, which will take place in Anchorage, Alaska, March 18. The meeting participants are National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and China’s Director of the Central Committee Office for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi, and Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi.
There will be no joint statement issued at the end, nor will this be the start of any negotiations, the U.S. officials emphasized.
“This really is a one-off meeting. This is not a resumption of a particular dialogue mechanism or the beginning of a dialogue process.... This is very much about sitting down, getting an understanding of each other and then taking that back and taking stock.... We are in the middle of a pretty extensive China strategy development process.”
That was about the nicest thing said. The two officials said Blinken and Sullivan intend to “dispel” what might be “a sense, potentially a perception, or maybe it’s a hope, in Beijing that our public message is somehow different than our private message.” They listed (once again) the litany of charges continued over from Mike Pompeo’s rampages (China’s alleged aggressive actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, “economic coercion”), and so forth. Their repeated assertion that they need the “inputs of our allies and partners” in order to “enhance our leverage,” “strengthen our hand,” and “best position the United States for success in this competition” with China, did not sound a confident note, however.
When a reporter for British “news” agency Reuters tried to blow up the Anchorage meeting in advance by suggesting the Chinese officials might refuse to discuss matters which they believe are internal matters of sovereignty at today’s Chinese Foreign Ministry press briefing, spokesman Zhao Lijian slammed the questioner. “We didn’t say that Taiwan, Hong Kong- and Xinjiang-related issues cannot be discussed during the dialogue. We will brief the U.S. side on the relevant situation and express our solemn position,” he said, characterizing some official U.S. comments as “moves to sway public opinion in the run-up to the dialogue in an attempt to pressure China.” That will fail, but China hopes this dialogue will “follow through on the consensus reached between President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden in their phone call, focus on cooperation, manage differences and bring China-U.S. relations back to the right track.”