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

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.

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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.