US, China to hold first high-level meet under Biden in Alaska | Joe Biden News


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.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi talks with South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha during their meeting at the foreign ministry in Seoul, South Korea in November 2020 [File: Kim Min-Hee/Pool via AFP]

“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.

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.

A man holds a sign during a rally to show support for Uighurs and their fight for human rights in Hong Kong, which has seen a crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations, on December 22, 2019 [File: Lee Jin-man/AP Photo]

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”.

The US said on February 4 it was “deeply disturbed” by reports Uighur women were being raped in the camps and has called on allies to speak up about the alleged abuses.

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.

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