High-ranking American and Chinese officials on Thursday exchanged rebukes during their first high-level talks in Alaska since US President Joe Biden took office, reported AP. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Central Foreign Affairs Commission Director Yang Jiechi criticised each other’s policies on multiple matters, including human rights.
The two countries have tussled over a number of matters from trade to human rights in Tibet, Hong Kong and China’s Xinjiang region. Other matters that China and the US have had disagreements about include Taiwan, Beijing’s claims related to the South China Sea, and the coronavirus pandemic.
During the two-day talks, being held in Alaska’s Anchorage city, Blinken said the US administration is united with its allies against China’s rising authoritarianism and assertiveness. Blinken said he would “discuss our deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyber attacks on the United States, economic coercion of our allies”, reported BBC.
The secretary of state said these actions threaten the rules-based order, maintaining global stability. “That’s why they’re not merely internal matters, and why we feel an obligation to raise these issues here today,” he said.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that China has undertaken an “assault on basic values”.
In response, Yang accused the US of using its military might and financial supremacy to suppress other countries. “It [the US] abuses so-called notions of national security to obstruct normal trade exchanges, and incite some countries to attack China,” he said, according to BBC.
Yang demanded that Washington stop pushing its own version of a democracy, especially when the US itself has been affected by domestic discontent. The foreign affairs chief also said that the US has failed to deal with its own human rights problems, reported AP.
“China will not accept unwarranted accusations from the US side,” he said. Yang added that the recent developments had thrust the relations between the two sides “into a period of unprecedented difficulty” that “has damaged the interests of our two peoples”.
The exchange between the two sides lasted for longer than an hour. After this, the US accused China of violating the agreed protocol of two minutes of opening remarks by each side. “The Chinese delegation...seems to have arrived intent on grandstanding, focused on public theatrics and dramatics over substance,” a senior administration official said, according to Reuters.
Chinese officials who spoke to the state media said that it was the US that violated the agreed protocol on the time limit for the opening remarks. The officials also accused the US of making a “groundless attack on China’s domestic and foreign policies”. However, Yang said that the “serious difficulties” in the US-China relations should not continue.
The relationship between China and the US has been affected for years and was strained further because of decisions of the previous Donald Trump administration, according to AP. The Biden government is yet to indicate whether it is ready to change the stance taken by the earlier administration.
On Wednesday, Blinken had announced new sanctions over China’s crackdown on pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong. In response, China stepped opposed the interference of the US in its domestic affairs.