US, Chinese diplomats trade barbs at Alaska meet

3/19/2021

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Top US and Chinese diplomats traded barbs at a high-level meeting in Alaska, their first since US President Joe Biden took office in January.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, reports dpa news agency.

The US-Chinese relationship would be competitive if necessary, cooperative if possible, and hostile if need be, Blinken said in his opening remarks.

China's actions threatened global stability, he warned.

Reacting to Blinken's remarks. Yang said: "It is important for our two countries that we conduct our affairs well instead of shifting the blame on someone else in the world."

"It is a fact that there are many human rights problems in the US," Yang said, referring to last year's Black Lives Matter protests against racism and police violence.

Then Blinken on his part said the US was concerned about the human rights situation in Hong Kong and in Xinjiang province, which is home to the Uighur ethnic minority.

He accused China of being responsible for cyber attacks and of blackmailing US allies with economic pressure and also criticised Beijing's stance on Taiwan.

Earlier, the Secretary of State had stated that the US intends to defend the "rules-based order" without which there would be a "much more violent world".

On the matters of Chinese activities in places like Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, he asserted that these were not merely internal matters.

The meeting then went on behind closed doors.

The talks will continue on Friday.

Ahead of the meeting with the Chinese diplomats, Biden's spokeswoman Jen Psaki had said the focus would be on "having a frank discussion, raising issues where we have concerns, and of course, looking for ways and places where we can work together".

Under former President Donald Trump's administration, ties between China and the US reached their lowest level since diplomatic relations were established in 1979.

It had levied tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of Chinese goods, to which Beijing also responded with duties of its own.

In January 2020, the countries reached a phase one agreement on trade that called for increased Chinese purchases of US goods and greater access to the Chinese financial market.

However, bilateral tensions again increased in the months since, amid the coronavirus pandemic after the Trump administration directly blamed China for the global crisis.
Source: IANS

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