Talks between the United States and China are off to a rocky start. The communist country believes that it can bully the U.S. with “grandstanding,” and the U.S. delegation fought back on the first day of talks in Alaska. Liberty Nation gave a preview of what was likely to come. It was clear that China was not pleased with Secretary of State Blinken’s statements during his visits to U.S. allies Japan and the Republic of Korea. The Chinese foreign ministry’s Zhao Lijian fumed: “The U.S.-Japan joint statement is a malicious attack on China’s foreign policy and grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs, in an attempt to harm China’s interests.”
According to a BBC report on the first meeting, a member of the U.S. team said: “The Chinese delegation… seems to have arrived intent on grandstanding, focused on public theatrics and dramatics over substance.” A significantly increased geopolitical presence in the Indo-Pacific region and growing military strength has emboldened the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) rhetoric. The BBC characterized the stage in which the talks began:
The ill-tempered talks in Anchorage involved Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on the U.S. side, facing off with China’s most senior foreign policy official, Yang Jiechi, and foreign minister Wang Yi.
The U.S. side appeared confident in taking on the Chinese. An ABC News telecast of the meeting showed Sullivan explaining the U.S. position, saying: “Our overriding priority on the United States side is to ensure that our approach in the world and our approach to China benefits the American people and protects the interests of our allies and partners.”
Secretary Blinken discussed the U.S. concern over China’s “crackdown” on Hong Kong, economic coercion against our allies, and cyberattacks against the U.S. that, as Blinken put it, “threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability.”
At that point, the CCP’s foreign policy representative, Jiechi, turned combative. He began by delivering a confrontational tutorial to the U.S. side: “Well, you can’t blame this problem on somebody else. The United States, itself, does not represent international public opinion and neither does the western world.” Blinken retorted:
“What I’m hearing is very different from what you describe. I’m hearing deep satisfaction that the United States is back, that we’re re-engaged with our allies and partners. I’m also hearing deep concern about some of the actions your government has taken.”
In what ABC News described as a “remarkable move,” the Chinese delegation called journalists back into the room to describe what the Chinese characterized as disrespect, with Jiechi scolding the U.S. saying:
“I think we thought too well of the United States. We thought that the U.S. side would follow the necessary diplomatic protocols. So, for China, it was necessary that we make our position clear. So, let me say here in front of the Chinese side, The United States does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength.”
Blinken and Sullivan, though their discourse was measured and to the point, were not cowed by the Chinese ire and gloves-off combative demeanor. Sullivan provided some counsel of his own to the Chinese, explaining: “A confident country is able to look hard at its shortcomings and constantly seek to improve. And that is the secret sauce of America.” Reading between the lines, Sullivan was telling the Chinese that this is what they should be doing.
Picking up where the Trump administration left off, the U.S. delegation held its own with the more seasoned Chinese opposition in discussions reminiscent of those between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the cold war days. The Chinese should consider that the U.S., though we have our problems, has consistently demonstrated to friends and foes alike that, as the most powerful nation on the globe, we can rally when confronted.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.
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