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Blinken to make US’s ‘tough approach’ clear in first China talks

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken talks about priorities for the Biden administration in the Benjamin Franklin room at the State Department in Washington, US, on March 3, 2021 [File: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via Reuters]

Blinken to make US’s ‘tough approach’ clear in first China talks

The us will tell China it’s trying to find “deeds, not words” if Beijing wants a change within the tone of bilateral ties, two US officials said on Tuesday, before Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s first face-to-face meeting together with his Chinese counterparts in Alaska.

The high-level talks, scheduled for Thursday, are aimed toward “getting an understanding of every other” and “taking stock” of ties because the new government folks President Joe Biden formulates its China policy, the officials said.

Washington also will explain its “deep concerns” about China’s actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan and lay down “some specific steps” that Beijing must fancy jibe , the officials said, briefing reporters on the condition of anonymity.

That includes ending the “economic coercion” of Australia, a key US ally, they said.

The talks between Blinken, the White House national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, and their Chinese peers – secretary of state Wang Yi and Chinese Communist Party official Yang Jiechi – come as Beijing presses for a reset in relations following years of worsening ties under former US President Donald Trump.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping, during a two-hour call with Biden in February, involved an improvement of ties supported the “spirit of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation”. He warned that any confrontation between the 2 superpowers would be “disastrous”.

Weeks later, Wang, the Chinese secretary of state , laid out Beijing’s vision to bring “China-US relations back on the proper track”, urging Washington as a primary step to prevent “meddling” within the affairs of Tibet, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan. He also urged Washington to lift “unreasonable tariffs” on Chinese goods and take away restrictions on Chinese media outlets also as educational and cultural groups.

Biden, however, has maintained Trump’s tough stance on China.

He has called Beijing the US’s “most serious competitor” and pledged to confront what he called its “attack on human rights, property and global governance”.

No illusions about tough-minded approach’
Thursday’s talks within the city of Anchorage in Alaska come every week after Biden convened the primary leader-level summit of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, an off-the-cuff alliance between the US, Japan, India and Australia that aims to counter China’s rise.

The US officials told reporters that the summit, also as Blinken’s continuing visit to Japan and South Korea , were a part of the Biden administration’s effort to formulate a replacement China policy.

“We are coming in with what we desire is an increasingly strong hand to return to the table with our Chinese interlocutors,” the official said, adding that the US side will again “make very clear our deep concerns a few range of issues, whether it’s Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Chinese economic coercion of our allies and partners, China’s increasingly aggressive activities across the Taiwan Strait”.

However, the 2 sides won’t enter detailed negotiations.

“We’re simply not there yet,” the official said, adding: “This is basically about having a broader strategic conversation, it’s about communicating the areas where we shall take steps, and it’s about understanding where our Chinese interlocutors are at.”

Wang and Yang’s inputs within the Alaska talks also will be “important to informing where we enter our China strategy going forward,” the official continued.

Still, Blinken and Sullivan will outline actions the Chinese side must fancy see “substantial progress within the relationship”, including ending informal trade sanctions against Australia.

“Beijing has been talking about its desire to vary the tone of the connection , and in fact , we’re getting to be watching deeds, not words thereon front,” the second official said. “And we’re in fact coming to those discussions with a really clear-eyed view about [China’s] pretty poor diary of keeping its promises.”

Washington doesn’t have “unrealistic expectations” about the result of the meeting, the official said, and for that reason, there’ll no joint statement.

“I think we’re looking to possess a pleasant , robust and really frank conversation with an influence that’s getting to be a serious competitor of ours,” the official said, adding: “We don’t want them to be operating under illusions about our tough-minded approach to their very problematic behaviour. And on the opposite hand, of course, it’s a chance for our guys to listen to from them.”

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