Senior U.S. officials continue efforts to strengthen alliances with Asian and European allies ahead of a trip to Alaska for high-level meetings with China. Chinese officials called the U.S. move a move to embolden itself ahead of high-level U.S.-China talks, but to no avail.
White House National Security Adviser Sullivan and Secretary of State Blinken are expected to meet with Yang Jiechi, a member of the Communist Party’s Central Political Bureau in charge of foreign affairs, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Anchorage, Alaska, the largest city in the United States, Thursday (March 18, 2021) local Time.
U.S. Secretary of State Blinken (right) and Defense Secretary Austin meet with Japan’s foreign minister and defense minister in Tokyo on March 16, 2021 (Reuters)
Prior to the talks, Blinken traveled to Tokyo and Seoul to meet with diplomatic and defense officials from Japan and South Korea, U.S. allies in Asia, along with Defense Secretary Austin, and received public support from Japan and a positive response from South Korea in working together to address the Chinese threat.
White House spokesman Satch and National Security Advisor Sullivan attend a media briefing at the White House on March 12, 2021 (Reuters)
Sullivan, meanwhile, is pressing ahead with renewed talks with officials from European allies, hoping to garner greater support and coordinate policy toward China before heading to the floor of high-level U.S.-China talks.
A White House statement released Wednesday said national security adviser Sullivan spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that day, previewing the topics he and Secretary of State John Blinken will discuss with Chinese officials on March 18 and welcoming NATO’s enhanced dialogue with partner nations in the Indo-Pacific region. Sullivan also expressed support for Secretary-General Stoltenberg’s NATO 2030 initiative, the statement added. The initiative proposes a NATO alliance that maintains its operational strength militarily, is politically stronger and more proactive in addressing global issues, including challenges to transatlantic and world security posed by China’s international policies.
A day earlier, Sullivan spoke with the French president’s foreign affairs adviser, the German chancellor and the British prime minister’s national security adviser, and also gave you a preview of what he and Secretary of State Blinken will be talking about with Chinese officials on March 18.
U.S. President Joe Biden has retained many of the policies toward China set by the former Trump administration since taking office on Jan. 20, but emphasized that he would place greater emphasis on working with allies to address the Chinese challenge.
Noting the move by senior U.S. officials to engage intensively with senior allied officials before entering high-level talks in Anchorage, Beijing said the U.S. is rushing for time to pull in allies to pressure China ahead of the high-level dialogue, an attempt that will not succeed.
Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai (Photo by Voice of America Nia)
Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai, who arrived in Anchorage ahead of schedule, said in a joint interview with Chinese domestic media Wednesday that the U.S. attempt to bring in allies to try to gain an advantageous position vis-à-vis China in this strategic dialogue is “like a man who sings to brace himself when he walks at night, but it’s not really very useful. If you have any issues to talk to China about, do your best to spread them out face to face.”
White House spokeswoman Sachs said at a press conference Wednesday that national security adviser Sullivan and Secretary of State Blinken will mention Taiwan and North Korea, among many other issues, in their talks with Chinese officials.
Both Ambassador Cui Tiankai and Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said earlier this year when talking about U.S.-China relations that issues involving China’s sovereignty, such as Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang, are “off limits.