U.S., Chinese diplomats clash in first high-level meeting of Biden administration

Secretary of State Antony Blinken second from right joined by national security adviser Jake Sullivan right speaks while facing Chinese Communist Party foreign affairs chief Yang Jiechi second from left and

The first talks between President Joe Biden's administration and China were "tough and direct" but found some areas where the rival superpowers' interests coincide, U.S. diplomats said Friday after their meetings ended. Before sitting down, the two sides illustrated the poor health of their relationship by trading barbs in front of journalists.

America's top diplomats met their Chinese counterparts in Alaska Thursday-and it was clear from the start that relations would remain frosty.

"We will. discuss our deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyber attacks on the United States, economic coercion of our allies", Mr Blinken said in blunt public remarks. As reporters returned, a visibly annoyed Yang accused the US side of breaking protocol with its remarks and added, "The United States does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength". In response, Chinese Communist Party foreign affairs chief Yang Jiechi accused Washington of hypocrisy on human rights and other issues.

China's actions "threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability", Blinken said at the opening of the two-day meeting.

Still, the Biden team has said it wants to engage diplomatically on the world stage, in a pivot from Trump's isolationist and ally-berating stance, particularly on issues such as climate change, the pandemic and the non-proliferation of weapons.

"We expected to have tough and direct talks on a wide range of issues, and that's exactly what we had", White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters moments after the Chinese delegation left the hotel meeting room. "We've heard each of these concerns from around the world, from our allies and partners, and the broader worldwide community during the intensive consultations we've undertaken these last two months".

"Honestly, it is hard to see China changing course on any issue of significance to the United States".

Chinese Communist Party foreign affairs chief Yang Jiechi center and China's State Councilor Wang Yi second from left speak at the opening session of US-China talks at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage Alaska Thursday
Top American and Chinese diplomats clash publicly during strained first in-person talks of Biden presidency

"I'm also hearing deep concern about some of the actions your government is taking", he added.

Blinken also cited his recent trip to Japan and South Korea.

"China has no room for compromise on issues concerning its sovereignty, security and core interests", spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.

The rebukes played out in front of cameras, but a senior US administration official told reporters that as soon as media had left the room, the two sides "immediately got down to business" and held substantive and direct talks.

"As we work to strengthen diplomatic and economic relations in the region, China abuses its economic power through coercive trade policies that aim to force vulnerable countries to alter their trade relationships with the US".

But now, even that seems unlikely.

"Gone is the optimism about China's behavior becoming more moderate, as well as the belief that Beijing is ready to be a net contributor to global goods. In its place is a more assertive approach created to mitigate the Chinese Communist Party's capacity and will to advance objectives antithetical to US interests", wrote Eric Sayers, an Asia-Pacific defense policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based think tank.

UK PM Boris Johnson to visit India at end of April
We don't need more weapons, and we don't need more attempts to line up with the US's pressure on China and Russian Federation . All while targeting reforms to improve procurement support the government's climate change and research priorities.

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