Blinken speaks at a joint news conference following the U.S.-South Korea 2+2 talks in Seoul on March 18.
Top U.S. and Chinese officials are scheduled to hold their first talks in Alaska on March 18. Beijing authorities want the Biden administration to reverse many of the sanctions imposed by President Trump on the Chinese Communist Party, but the U.S. side is showing no signs of weakening, highlighting the depth of the rift and the difficulty of repairing relations, sources close to the situation said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will meet with Communist Party member Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Alaska on March 18.
The Wall Street Journal cited sources familiar with the matter as saying that Beijing authorities plan to ask the U.S. side to withdraw many of the sanctions against the Chinese Communist Party introduced by the Trump Administration during the meeting. These include bans on Chinese technology companies such as huawei and SMIC; visa restrictions on Communist Party members, foreign students and journalists from the official media; and sanctions decisions such as the closure of the Communist Party’s consulate in Houston.
The Trump administration period has seen the toughest response to the CCP in U.S. history, confronting the CCP on all fronts, including the economic and trade, human rights, espionage, diplomatic, and military levels. Some commentators say that President Trump’s combination of punches has left the CCP defenseless and can only hope that the Biden Administration will be lenient to it.
However, the Biden team seems to show no weakness to the Chinese Communist Party either. U.S. officials said the U.S. side will use the meeting to express concern about the Chinese Communist Party’s restrictions on freedom in Hong Kong, expansion of naval power in the South China Sea, economic pressure on U.S. allies, infringement of intellectual property rights and breaches of cyber security.
According to the report, the U.S. and China have come up with different agendas, with little overlap between Beijing and Washington, which shows how deep the rift is and how difficult it is to repair relations between the two sides.
Since Biden took office, senior Chinese Foreign Ministry officials have frequently shouted at the U.S. side, eager to untangle themselves from the strained U.S.-China stalemate. The Chinese Foreign Ministry, however, claimed that the initiative to meet in Alaska was sent by the U.S. side.
However, the outside world has noticed that the first high-level U.S.-China meeting was not held in Washington as usual, but chose to be held in Alaska, a remote place in the northwestern U.S. It is clear that the U.S. side intends to downgrade the talks and the Biden administration still wants to keep distance from the Chinese Communist Party for now.
A Biden administration official said that in the past, the Chinese Communist Party has tried to exploit the differences between the U.S. representatives. This Time, Blinken and Sullivan’s participation in the talks will make it clear that “there will be no ranting and raving, and that the tricks that China (the Communist Party) has used in the past to distance us or try to distance us will not work this time.”
It is worth mentioning that on the eve of the U.S.-China talks, the U.S. State Department updated its report on the Hong Kong Autonomy Act on the evening of the 16th, naming 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials who infringed on Hong Kong’s autonomy, including 14 senior Chinese Communist Party officials at the vice state level.
Blinken issued a statement saying the U.S. is deeply concerned about the Chinese Communist Party’s unilateral destruction of Hong Kong’s electoral system.
Speaking to Free Asia, Hong Kong Democratic Commission Director Zhu Mumin, who is in Washington, said it is significant that Blinken chose to update the list of sanctioned Chinese and Hong Kong officials at a critical time before a high-level U.S.-China meeting. It shows that the U.S. is not bending over backwards on the issue of Hong Kong, and that Washington is responding sternly to the Chinese Communist Party’s decision to revise Hong Kong’s electoral system.
Blinken already issued a statement during the U.S.-Japan 2+2 talks in Tokyo on the 16th, saying he would work with Japan to defend shared beliefs in democracy and hold countries or people accountable for endangering it.
He stressed that the U.S. will stand with its allies and partners to speak out for the various rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people, and noted that the U.S. will respond if the Chinese Communist Party fails to fulfill its obligations.