US, China set for high-level meeting in Alaska with little optimism

Washington DC, Mar 17 (efe-epa).- A high-level diplomatic contact between the United States and China is set to take place in Alaska Thursday with low expectations about any outcome from the first face-to-face meeting between the warring sides under President Joe Biden’s administration.

A US official, who briefed journalists about the meeting on condition of anonymity, said the Biden administration did not view the meeting with China as the continuation or beginning of a dialog but simply as a first contact.

The official said the US side would feel China out and be “very clear” in expressing its position on Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan, and Beijing’s “economic coercion” strategy.

The two sides will not issue a joint statement at the end of the meeting.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan are to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi, a senior member of Communist Party Politburo member.

Blinken and Sullivan will seek change in China’s “behavior” and make it clear to Beijing that Washington’s discourse in public and private will be the same without any divisions in the Biden government.

The official stressed the games that China had played in the past to divide US administrations or tried to do so would not work with the current government.

The meeting comes after Blinken and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s trip to South Korea and Japan and Biden’s virtual summit with leaders of the other Quad countries, including Australia, India, and Japan.

Relations between China and the US deteriorated drastically during the presidency of Donald Trump.

The new administration has said many hurdles need to be removed to improve the bilateral ties.

Trade, diplomatic and technological clashes between the two countries were common during the Trump administration (2017-2021).

Biden has promised a different approach but his administration does not seem to be in a hurry to completely put an end to the trade war with Beijing.

The Alaska meeting will take place two days after the US sanctioned 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials over Beijing’s ongoing crackdown on the semi-autonomous city.

Blinken said China’s National People’s Congress – the country’s legislature – “undermined” Hong Kong’s electoral system with a reform it approved last week.

The US has identified 24 officials, some of them sanctioned previously, whom it holds responsible for undermining the autonomy of the people of Hong Kong.

“Foreign financial institutions that knowingly conduct significant transactions with the individuals listed in today’s report are now subject to sanctions,” Blinken said. EFE


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