The first U.S.-China high-level talks concluded at noon Anchorage Time on March 19. As planned, there was no joint statement and no joint press conference. Secretary of State Blinken and National Security Advisor Sullivan told reporters after the meeting that the dialogue with China was “tough and direct.”
This followed a heated exchange of words at the opening of the first day of the meeting. Yu Maochun, former chief China Policy planning adviser to the U.S. secretary of state, told the station that he affirmed the continuity of the Biden administration’s China policy and criticized Chinese Communist Party officials for not playing by the rules and losing their diplomatic demeanor at the meeting, a major failure of Chinese diplomacy.
After a sparkling opening to the first day of the meeting, the final meeting between the U.S. and Chinese top brass in Alaska unfolded at 9:10 a.m. local time on March 19.
White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Air Force One on March 19 that the U.S. delegation’s purpose in Anchorage was to articulate U.S. principles and expectations, and that the position remains the same, namely, “not seeking conflict, but welcoming fierce competition and always adhering to the principles espoused for our people and friends. “
“But we see an exaggerated diplomatic show (on the Chinese side), and that’s often aimed at a domestic audience.” Pierre said the United States realized early on that talking to China would be tough, “but we’re ready to talk frankly and keep (the U.S.-China talks) going, using the time remaining to outline the same message in private for Chinese officials.”
As for whether the tensions of the talks will affect the possibility of a meeting between President Biden and Xi Jinping? Pierre only emphasized that this was a one-time meeting.
President Joe Biden made only brief comments about the U.S.-China talks before catching a flight to Georgia on the morning of the 19th, saying, “I’m very proud of the secretary of state.”
Yu Maochun: The Rigidity of the Chinese Communist Party’s War Wolf Approach
On the 18th, the opening session, originally scheduled to last only a few minutes, turned into an hour-long war of words in front of the camera due to a sudden “overtime speech” by Chinese representative Yang Jiechi.
“The Chinese Communist Party (official) spoke for 10 minutes without rules, very rude, and the diplomatic official did not have the posture of a diplomat. It’s not the first time, it’s there for all to see.” Yu Maochun, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo‘s chief China policy planning adviser, told Radio Free Asia that it showed that the Chinese representatives did not come to the issue with sincerity, but only wanted to use the camera to attack the U.S. He heavily criticized, “China blamed the U.S. for all the crux of the Sino-U.S. relationship, without the sincerity to do its own soul-searching, which is a big diplomatic failure (of the Chinese Communist Party). “
“Xi Jinping speaks of this east rise and west fall, like Mao Zedong did back then, a serious error in estimating the world situation.” Yu Maochun further analyzed, “Previously, the war wolf diplomacy was on a relatively low level, like the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which may represent the grassroots officials and the masses, but now it is spoken by China’s highest-ranking diplomat, reflecting the strength of China’s strategy. I think it will only help China’s image in the international arena by isolating it even more, not at all, and it also shows that he (the Chinese Communist Party) is very rigid in his diplomatic methods.”
Yu Maochun also believes that the Chinese government has tried every possible way to “sow discord” between the previous and current U.S. administrations, expecting the Biden Administration to fully reject the Trump administration’s China policy, “but it seems (the Chinese ploy) has failed, and now it is still a bit annoyed.”
Yu Maochun affirmed the Biden administration’s continuity in its China policy and its strengthening of ties with allies to deal with the Chinese challenge. “China is not a democracy and rules by personal will. They like to blame fluctuations in their China policy on the philosophy of one individual. For example, the last administration (China blamed) Pompeo. They fail to see that the underlying principle stems from what China has done and also according to American public opinion. So no matter what U.S. administration comes to power, the tone (of policy toward China) will be pretty much the same.”
For whom did the tiger turn into a war wolf?
In this sudden show of “war wolf diplomacy”, the most concerned role of Yang Jiechi is the transformation of the outside world.
In 1977, Yang Jiechi, a translator for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, accompanied former President George H.W. Bush Sr. and his party on a visit to Tibet, and former U.S. Ambassador to China James Lilley recalled in the Los Angeles Times that “everyone liked him (Yang).
Yang Jiechi went on to have a successful diplomatic career and established a good relationship with the Bush Family, and was nicknamed “Tiger Yang” by Bush Sr. He was born in 1950 as a tiger, and the word “Chi” was added to his name.
More than four decades later, the long-sleeved “Tiger Yang” has become the leader of Alaska’s war wolves.
“Yang Jiechi is a diplomat who used to be more low-key. Now his tone is so tough and impersonal, it must be an instruction from above, but he is just a sounding board.” Yu Maochun said.
Peter Martin, a former Bloomberg correspondent in China who is about to publish a book on China’s Civilian Army: The Making of Wolf Warrior Diplomacy, analyzed Yang Jiechi’s strengths as being “good at communicating what Beijing wants to hear. Beijing wants to hear”.
He quoted Dennis Wilder, a former senior U.S. official who has long dealt with Yang Jiechi, as saying, “He [Yang] is a man who has the ability to be extremely charismatic when necessary and to be in extreme anger mode when necessary.” According to Wilder, Yang’s performance was carefully calculated to show the Chinese delegation on the ground as well, so that they could report on the outcome of the meeting.
Peter Martin tweeted that in the early 1950s, Chinese diplomats were still figuring out how to represent a closed and paranoid political system to the world; by the 1990s, they were trying to avoid blaming the United States and maintain a bush-league approach. But by 2021, Chinese diplomats on the world stage will need to adjust to a political system that abolishes leadership tenure, establishes “re-Education” camps in Xinjiang, and a leader who touts the “clear advantages” of the Chinese system.
U.S. Congress Unites on China Front
At the 19th hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, former U.S. officials and lawmakers from both parties showed strong unity on China policy. The topic of the nearly two-hour hearing was on uniting Indo-Pacific allies and adjusting strategic ambiguity toward Taiwan.
Randall Schriver, the Trump-era assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security, and Richard Nathan Haass, the Bush-era director of policy planning at the State Department, both affirmed the continuity of the Biden administration’s China policy.
“I am encouraged by the statements and actions taken by the Biden administration at the beginning of its tenure, and I applaud the Quadripartite Talks (Quad) at the head of state level, as well as the 2+2 talks and follow-up to the Secretary of State and Defense’s visit to Japan and South Korea.” Sheriff said.
“(Facing China’s challenge) multilateralism is critical to the United States, and we can’t use unilateral force to have an impact on China.” For his part, Haas cautioned that the U.S. strategy must also remain pragmatic, “but we also cannot ask our alliance partners to choose sides, for example, even if they would strengthen their security ties with the United States, many of them still want economic ties with China.”
Republican Rep. Andy Barr (R-Texas), for his part, expressed anger at the unreasonableness of Communist diplomats at the U.S.-China talks.
“I know that the United States has had a very difficult year, and we have our own problems. But I want to highlight the moral differences between the U.S. and China. Does the U.S. have internment camps that are being used to ethnically cleanse its own population? Has the United States been stealing intellectual property from companies that do business here and providing it to the military? Has the U.S. imprisoned people who are advocating for democracy and human rights?”
Barr said that when the U.S. is talking about the future of the Indo-Pacific, it must make clear to its allies the moral differences between a liberal democratic society and a closed communist police state.