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First U.S.-China meeting under Biden gets off to a rocky start

The first high-level gathering of U.S. and Chinese officials under President Joe Biden kicked off with an exchange of insults at a pre-meeting press event in Alaska on Thursday. A planned four-minute photo session for the officials to address reporters ended up lasting one hour and 15 minutes due to a frothy exchange, according to NBC News. Both the Chinese and U.S. side kept calling the reporters back into the room so they could add remarks.

Expectations were already low for the meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi, director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party. In his opening remarks, Blinken said the U.S. would discuss its “deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyber attacks on the United States, economic coercion toward our allies.”

Beijing considers issues in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan as part of its domestic affairs, and the officials reiterated at the meeting that China is firmly opposed to foreign interference. Yang said the U.S. side “carefully orchestrated” the dialogue, according to an official translation reported by NBC. “I think we thought too well of the United States, we thought that the U.S. side will follow the necessary diplomatic protocols,” Yang said, adding that “the United States does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength.”

Yang said the U.S. must deal with the Chinese side in “the right way” and reiterated Beijing’s call for cooperation. Under Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Chinese government has been consolidating its power at home and abroad. In the last year, Beijing has pushed ahead with major trade deals with Asia-Pacific neighbors and the European Union. Chinese authorities have also emphasized their success in quickly controlling the coronavirus pandemic domestically, and their claim of lifting all 1.4 billion people in the country out of poverty — both of which Yang pointed to in his meeting with U.S. officials.

First U.S.-China meeting under Biden gets off to a rocky start, CNBC, Mar 19

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