03/20/2021, 11.50
UNITED STATES – CHINA
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Alaska summit: Blinken says Chinese on the defensive

The two sides clash over Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyber war and Beijing's economic reprisals against Washington's allies. Common interests include Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan and climate change. The Chinese are looking to Russia and Turkey to counter the US offensive. European Union and Australia make their move.

Washington (AsiaNews) – The first high-level summit between the United States and China since President Joe Biden took office in January ended today in Anchorage, Alaska, with a “a defensive response” from the Chinese delegation, this according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan also attended the two-day talks along with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi.

In his final comment, Blinken referred to areas where the two sides have substantial differences: the repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang and the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, Beijing's threats to Taiwan, cyberattacks against the United States, and Chinese economic reprisals against Washington's allies.

The first day was marked by a bitter recriminations between the two delegations, who exchanged mutual accusations that they had violated the meeting’s protocol.

US representatives said that China is a threat to global stability. The Chinese responded by saying that the United States is inciting other nations to attack their country.

Yang and Wang arrived at the summit already irritated by Washington's decision, announced on Tuesday, to sanction 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials held responsible for persecuting pro-democracy activists in the former British colony.

Tensions were also high because of Blinken's diplomatic activism, setting up an anti-Beijing front with allies and partners in Asia, especially the  Quad group (with Japan, India, Australia).

Yang said that the talks were candid, constructive and helpful, which in diplomatic jargon means that the two sides clashed over everything.

But Washington and Beijing have acknowledged that they have a common interest in solving problems such as the Iranian and North Korean nuclear issue, peace in Afghanistan, and the fight against climate change. On this last point, the two sides promised to set up a joint working group.

According to several observers, the Chinese envoys expected a tense summit. The fact that, unlike the Americans, they defined it as a “strategic dialogue” is explained by the need to “sell” it as a diplomatic success for President Xi Jinping.

To counter the US diplomatic offensive, Beijing announced a bilateral meeting between Wang Yi and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on 22 March. Three days later, Wang will fly to Turkey, another country with tense relations with the United States.

Meanwhile, US allies are starting to position themselves. On 22 March, the European Union will impose sanctions against China for its treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, the first sanctions since the Tiananmen massacre in 1989.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne today said that her government will not give up its rights just to resume a dialogue with Beijing, which broke down after the Chinese sparked a mini-trade war against Canberra.  

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