High-Level US, China Talks Were 'Unusually Undiplomatic'

Alaska meeting turned into war of words
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2021 4:38 AM CDT
Updated Mar 19, 2021 6:31 AM CDT
China, US Diplomats Spar at Fiery Alaska Meeting
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, second from right, speaks while facing Chinese Communist Party foreign affairs chief Yang Jiechi, second from left, and China's State Councilor Wang Yi, at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska, Thursday, March 18, 2021.   (Frederic J. Brown/Pool via AP)

(Newser) – America's top diplomats met their Chinese counterparts in Alaska Thursday—and it was clear from the start that relations would remain frosty. In his opening statement at the Biden's administration's first face-to-face high-level talks with China, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US would discuss its "deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyberattacks on the United States, economic coercion of our allies," reports Reuters. Yang Jeichi, China's top diplomat, fired back, accusing the US of bullying other countries into "attacking China" and suggesting it was hypocritical for the US to express concerns about human rights elsewhere when Black Americans are being "slaughtered."

"The United States does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength," Yang said. When reporters were about to be ushered out so a private meeting could take place, the American side asked them to stay as they delivered more remarks, Politico reports. The Chinese side then also demanded a second round of comments. A Biden administration official later said the Chinese side had arrived "intent on grandstanding." Barbara Plett-Usher at the BBC calls the meeting "an unusually undiplomatic sparring match," though she notes that "there may have been a certain amount of posturing involved, as a US official said the private conversation that followed was substantive and serious." (Read more US-China relations stories.)

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