The meeting between senior U.S. and Chinese diplomats in Alaska a week ago opened with a fierce exchange of rhetoric. Although Chinese officials told reporters after the meeting that it was “frank, constructive and helpful,” several members of Congress from both parties have said that the U.S. and China “will not go back to the way things used to be. Some lawmakers also predicted that the meeting marked the beginning of a “long and arduous engagement” between the two countries.
Early in the talks, several media reports speculated that even if U.S. and Chinese officials sat down face-to-face, there would be no breakthrough in diplomatic relations between the two countries, but in the end, the two sides showed a level of tit-for-tat that was unexpected.
Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Director of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Central Committee, made a number of “scolding” remarks at the meeting that departed from diplomatic tradition and etiquette, clearly reflecting the tough attitude adopted by the Chinese government toward the current international community. “You (the U.S.) are not qualified to say in front of China that you talk to China from a position of strength,” “The Chinese don’t eat this,” and “Have we suffered less from the foreigners? ” and other statements were hailed as golden words by the Chinese media, and also set off a wave of nationalist sentiment within the Chinese Internet firewall.
Republican leader: CCP rewards ‘War Wolf diplomacy’, stupidity
Apparently, however, such an attitude did not enjoy the same praise in the international community after crossing the firewall. The leader of the U.S. Congressional Intelligence Committee directly described Beijing‘s “war wolf diplomacy” as “foolish.
“They usually do that in private meetings, and this is probably the first Time I’ve seen that kind of attitude in a public meeting,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Voice of America that this is the route that current Chinese foreign policy is taking, and that he was not surprised by the Chinese attitude and rhetoric.
“You’ve seen this in their war-wolf diplomacy, stupidity. I think it’s a rewarding behavior for them, and that’s why you see him doing that. Honestly, that’s the way they’ve treated some other countries, more aggressively in private, even publicly threatening not to provide vaccines and other things like that to those countries,” Rubio continued.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), also a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also told VOA that this was another glimpse of Beijing’s “battle wolf diplomacy” through the media, but that he was not surprised that Chinese diplomats were behaving this way.
I think now the Chinese government is much bolder and very aggressive,” Koning said. But I don’t think it’s surprising, not to anyone who follows the South China Sea, or Chinese cyber activity or espionage in the United States.”
The much-anticipated global meeting of top U.S. and Chinese officials took place last week in Alaska, the closest U.S. geographic location to Asian countries. Sen. Dan Sullivan, a Republican U.S. senator from Alaska, was in Anchorage during the two-day meeting between U.S. and Chinese officials last week. He spoke to U.S. officials in attendance immediately after the meeting to learn about the talks with Chinese officials.
“I think this is a realistic start to the relationship, and it’s something that we need, and we need to make a realistic assessment of our differences and challenges with each other,” Sullivan shared earlier this week during a videoconference appearance at the Atlantic Council.
“I would say there’s no question that the atmosphere in that meeting was as cold as it was outside in Alaska at the time,” Sullivan described.
The Biden administration officials meeting performance rating? Mostly high marks from both parties
Despite the aggressive statements made by Chinese officials at the meeting, several Republicans crossed party lines to give high marks to Biden Administration officials for their performance.
Sullivan mentioned that he had detailed discussions with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, White House national security adviser Jake Sillivan and White House NSC Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell immediately after the Alaska talks. He said, “I liked the way that Sullivan talked about dealing with China, and he mentioned making sure that we’re talking from a position of strength when we’re dealing with China.”
“I’m glad that Secretary Blinken pushed back strongly. It could also be a test to see how far they can advance and vice versa. So I think it’s still important and positive,” Cornyn replied to Voice of America.
However, there are also congressional Republicans who are skeptical that the Biden administration will be able to stand strong against China. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), a Republican U.S. senator from Florida, has often been a harsh critic of China in Congress.
Scott told the Voice of America, “Biden is a rest-of-the-world guy who won’t change anything, and he’s never held any dictator accountable in his Life.”
Future bipartisan coalition against China Democratic leader: U.S.-China partnership can’t go back
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and a Democratic U.S. senator from New Jersey, emphasized to VOA that he was proud of the performance of Biden administration officials, saying their response released a clear and powerful signal that the U.S.-China relationship is not going back.
“I think what’s very good about the secretary of state and the national security adviser is that they were very direct and very tough, and therefore made China understand that we’re not going to work together as much as we used to, and that we respectfully disagree with each other,” Menendez said.
More than two months into his presidency, President Biden’s China Policy has yet to take formal shape, including how the new administration will handle former President Trump‘s series of China-related bans and tariffs. The Biden administration has repeatedly emphasized that Washington will focus on democratic values and holding China accountable for human rights abuses. The U.S. executive branch said it will fully reassess its relationship with China and will consult with Congress before formally launching a full strategy on China.
Biden held his first press conference since taking office on Thursday (March 25). In the hour-long press conference, Biden spent nearly 10 minutes on his views on U.S.-China relations.
Biden said he made clear to Chinese leader Xi Jinping during a two-hour phone call after taking office that the United States does not seek “confrontation,” but that there is “intense competition” between the United States and China, and that the United States will insist that China play by international rules The U.S. will insist that China “play fair” according to international rules.
Senator Menendez, the Senate Democratic foreign policy leader, also recently characterized China as a “strategic competitor” of the United States in a hearing, and that the United States should be prepared to fully compete with and confront China.
Such an idea has almost undoubtedly become a bipartisan consensus in Congress. Senator Sullivan argued that China has been watching the rise of the free world while watching domestic divisions continue to play out in the United States, and hopes that this will lead to the decline of the United States as it waits for domestic divisions to occur. In fact, Sullivan said, political divisions exist in every country, only the difference is that the United States is a transparent, free society where good and bad are spread out in the sunlight; in China, by contrast, divisions are simply hidden, not non-existent.
“I think there’s no question that all of us, major Republicans, Democrats, are just about to start working with this administration now to come together to deal with China,” Sullivan said at the conference.
“I do think that’s what China is afraid of, and they now know that in many ways we’re finally waking up to (their) challenge, and I call that a ‘cross-party awakening,’ so that’s a powerful position for all of us to be in a position to work together, including senators and executive branch members.”
Sen. Rubio also told Voice of America that America’s top priority will always be to protect its own national interests.
“Our job is to pursue policies that are good for our country, our allies, and our principles and values, and if there is an opportunity to work with the Chinese government, they are a huge, important, powerful economy and country, and we have to maintain a relationship with them, but not at the expense of our core values and core interests,” Rubio Rubio said.
Sen. Cornyn, for his part, said bluntly that the first talks between U.S. and Chinese officials are over, and the result is now clearly that the U.S. and China will enter another complex and difficult new phase.
“I think the verdict is in on (the talks), and this is just the beginning of a long and difficult bilateral engagement,” Cornyn said.