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Top Biden, China officials will meet in Alaska to discuss ‘range of issues’ next week

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Top U.S. and Chinese officials will meet in Anchorage, Alaska next week, the State Department announced on Wednesday. The two days of talks will be the first in-person meeting between senior representatives of the two global powers since President Joe Biden took office in January.

While in Alaska, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the president’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan will meet with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi, a member of the Politburo, the Chinese Communist Party’s top decision-making body.

In a written statement, State Department spokesman Ned Price announced the meeting planned for Thursday and Friday next week but did not elaborate on the issues that the group would discuss.

“The meeting will take place following Secretary Blinken’s meetings with two of our closest regional allies in Tokyo and Seoul. Secretary Blinken and NSA Sullivan will discuss a range of issues with the” People’s Republic of China, Price said. “Secretary Blinken will return to Washington, D.C. on March 19.”

Blinken’s trip to Tokyo and Seoul next week will be his first trip abroad as the United States’ chief diplomat.

Despite the vagueness from the department’s statement, it is worth noting that a senior administration official reportedly told The Wall Street Journal some of the issues that will be on the agenda.

“The goal will be to compare notes on what each of our hopes and plans are for domestic politics, what our goals are internationally, regionally and globally,” the official reportedly told the newspaper. Topics will include the pandemic, climate change, and issues of disagreement including China’s stance on Hong Kong and pressure on Taiwan, and the “undeclared economic embargoes” China has placed on Australia, the official said, according to The Journal.

RELATED: 47 Hong Kong democracy activists to be kept in custody, says court

U.S.-China relations became more tense under the Trump administration, which ramped up a trade war between two of the world’s foremost economic powerhouses and sought to bar Chinese technology companies like Huawei from doing business in the U.S. and to defend the theft of U.S. intellectual property.

In February, Blinken and Yang talked over the phone for the first time and touched on a range of issues. While the Secretary of State underscored human rights and the ongoing military coup in Myanmar, his counterpart urged the U.S. to respect China’s sovereignty.

Also last month, during Biden’s first call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the U.S. President expressed concerns regarding a slate of issues ranging from Hong Kong to China’s repression of Uighur Muslims, a White House readout after the call stated, per The Hill.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared the authoritarian regime’s actions against the group a “genocide” on January 19, his last full day in the role, and this made the U.S. the first country to formally do so. Legislatures in Canada and the Netherlands followed suit. Moreover, Blinken has said he agrees with the genocide designation made by Pompeo.

RELATED: Independent report claims evidence of China’s ‘intent to destroy’ Uighurs

“Of course, there’ll be a range of engagements that the President and his National Security team will have with China and other countries in the region in the months and years ahead, but we are directly engaged,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday when asked about reports of a potential meeting, per The Hill.

“There are a range of issues we, of course, have talked with the Chinese about through those engagements. We don’t hold back about our concerns, but we also look for opportunities to work together,” Psaki added.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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New documents show China trying to establish ‘satellite state’ in Caribbean

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China has been “exploiting a fragile security environment and taking advantage of the region’s need for economic investment to gain influence and advance its malign agenda” in a move that challenges U.S. hegemony in the Americas, U.S. Southern Command Comm. General Laura Richardson recently told Congress in written testimony.

The Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, located about 220 miles from the U.S. Virgin Islands, is where China is planning to establish a special Chinese-run economic zone, according to documents reviewed by Newsweek

Just The News  reports that per the documents, the area will have its own customs and immigration facilities, a shipping port and it will even issue passports. China will also establish different kinds of businesses that will specialize in things from facial surgery to virology, the latter of which is closely associated with the research in Wuhan that is the suspected source of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A spokesperson for SOUTHCOM said that the U.S. military is “aware that China may use its commercial and diplomatic presence for military purposes. In Asia, Africa and the Middle East, China has already abused commercial agreements at host-country ports for military aims; our concern is they may do the same in this region.”

More than two-thirds of the 31 nations under SOUTHCOM’s responsibility have signed onto China’s belt-and-road initiative, which is Beijing’s program to lend money to developing nations to use for infrastructure projects, according to Just The News.

Several nations have had problems with repaying such loans, resulting in Beijing seizing the country’s assets. For example, Sri Lanka struggled to pay back Beijing in 2017 and instead signed off the rights to a strategic port, according to Foreign Policy.

Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Mo., a member of the House Oversight Committee proving China’s incursion inside the U.S. sphere of influence, told Just the News on Monday night that Beijing’s aggression in the Caribbean reminded him of the Soviet’s intervention in Fidel Castro’s Cuba more than a half century earlier.

“It reminds me of Russia’s involvement in Cuba, just 220 miles off the shore of the US Virgin Islands. We have Antigua. It used to be considered the United States back yard. Unfortunately, today, it’s China’s front yard,” Burlison told the “Just the News, No Noise television show. “And China has used the united front to enter into loan agreements and contracts to create trade zones within Antigua in order to gain a foothold into the Caribbean.”

“And this is just part of their efforts around the globe, whether it’s in African countries or Laos. They’re they’re creating a network to try to undermine the U.S. dollar and try to end run around some of our tariffs and other programs,” he warned.

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