Talks will be first in-person meeting of high-level officials and will air disagreements between the two powers.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet top Chinese officials on March 18 during a stop in Alaska, the State Department said on Wednesday, marking the first high-level in-person contact between the two countries under the Biden administration, which promised on Monday to air issues where there are “deep disagreements”.
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will join the meeting in Anchorage with China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, and State Councillor Wang Yi. The meeting will follow Blinken’s first overseas trip to US allies Japan and South Korea.
“The meeting is an opportunity to address a wide range of issues, including ones where we have deep disagreements,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Wednesday.
“It was important to us that this administration’s first meeting with Chinese officials to be held on American soil and occur after we have met and consulted closely with partners and allies and both Asia and Europe,” she said.
The meeting will come after the US is due to hold its first-ever leaders’ meeting of the Quad group of countries, which includes the US, India, Japan and Australia, on Friday, as it looks to boost its diplomacy in Asia to counter China’s growing influence.
WH’s Psaki forecasts a frank exchange when top U.S. officials meet Chinese counterparts in Anchorage, Alaska, next week. Says it was important that the first such meeting be on American soil.
— Steve Holland (@steveholland1) March 10, 2021
US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, held their first phone call as leaders last month and appeared at odds on most issues, even as Xi warned that confrontation would be a “disaster” for both nations.
Blinken told Yang in a phone call earlier in February the US would stand up for human rights and democratic values in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong.
Washington under Biden and the previous administration of former President Donald Trump have criticised Beijing for its treatment of the majority-Muslim Uighur minority population, many of which are being held in a network of internment camps amid allegations of “genocide”.
China has denied the allegations.
Blinken, who has said Beijing poses the greatest challenge to US foreign policy, also pressed China to condemn the military coup in Myanmar and reaffirmed that Washington will work with allies to hold China accountable for efforts to threaten the stability of Indo-Pacific, including across the Taiwan Strait.