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.
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.
“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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Taiwan President Confirms US Troops Are In The Country To Help Protect Against China
During a CNN interview on Wednesday, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen confirmed that U.S. troops were on the ground in Taiwan to assist in strengthening the country’s defenses as the threat from China is “increasing every day.”
Tsai told CNN’s Will Ripley that the situation has gone south in recent years as “China’s plan towards the region” has become “very different.”
“That plan includes war threats over Taiwan, clashes with Japan and the East China Sea and militarizing manmade islands in the South China Sea, posing a direct challenge to seven decades of U.S. military supremacy in the Indo-Pacific,” Ripley said. “In response, the U.S. ramped up arms sales to Taiwan, selling the island $5 billion in weapons last year. President Tsai confirms exclusively to CNN, U.S. support goes beyond selling weapons. Does that support include sending some U.S. service members to help train Taiwanese troops?”
“Well, yes,” Tsai responded. “We have a wide range of cooperation with the U.S., aiming at increasing our defense capability.”
Later in the interview, Ripley asked, “Do you have faith that the United States would defend Taiwan if the Mainland were to try to move on Taiwan?”
“I do have faith, and given the long-term relationship that we have the U.S. and also the support the people of the U.S., as well as the Congress, and the administration has been very helpful,” Tsai said, later adding that Taiwan needs to “expedite our military reform so that we have the ability to defend ourselves. And given the size of Taiwan compared to the size of [China], developing asymmetric capability is the key for us.”
Tsai’s comments come a few weeks after China sent over 150 military planes into Taiwanese air space, the largest incursion ever by the Communist country.
“The defense of Taiwan is in our own hands, and we are absolutely committed to that,” Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told ABC Australia in response to China’s aggression.
“If China is going to launch a war against Taiwan we will fight to the end, and that is our commitment. I’m sure that if China is going to launch an attack against Taiwan, I think they are going to suffer tremendously as well.”
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