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Highlights from the heated meeting in Alaska

U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan speaks as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (center) looks on at the opening session of US-China talks at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska on March 18, 2021.

Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images

Talks between the U.S. and China got off to a rough start on Thursday, with both sides chiding and reprimanding each other in an unusual public display of tensions.

The meeting in Anchorage, Alaska was the first high-level meeting between the two countries under the administration of President Joe Biden, and came after more than two years of rocky relations between the two countries.

What was initially meant to be a four-minute photo shoot ended up lasting more than an hour as both sides traded barbs on issues from U.S.-China relations to concerns from Washington’s allies. Reporters were told not to leave as both sides wanted to add their rebuttals.

Leading the U.S. delegation were Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security advisor Jake Sullivan. Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi, director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party, led the Chinese delegation.

Here are some excerpts and highlights from the meeting:

On U.S.-China relations

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi:
China certainly in the past has not and in the future will not accept the unwarranted accusations from the U.S. side. In the past several years, China’s legitimate rights and interests have come under outright suppression, plunging the China-U.S. relationship into a period of unprecedented difficulty. 

… China urges the U.S. side to fully abandon the hegemony practice of willfully interfering in China’s internal affairs. This has been a longstanding issue and it should be changed. It is time for it to change. 

Chinese Director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission, Yang Jiechi
China and the United States are both major countries, and both show the important responsibilities. We must both contribute to the peace, stability and the development of the world, in areas such as Covid-19, restoring economic activities in the world and responding to climate change. 

There are many things that we can do together and where our interests converge. So what we need to do is to abandon the Cold War mentality and the zero-sum game approach.

… So let me say here that, in front of the Chinese side, the United States does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength. The U.S. side was not even qualified to say such things even 20 years or 30 years back, because this is not the way to deal with the Chinese people. If the United States wants to deal properly with the Chinese side, then let’s follow the necessary protocols and do things the right way.

Cooperation benefits both sides. In particular, this is the expectation of the people of the world. Well, the American people are certainly a great people, but so are the Chinese people.

On concerns of the U.S. and its allies

On values and democracy

Secretary Blinken and I are proud of the story about America we’re able to tell here, about a country that under President Biden’s leadership has made major strides to control the pandemic, to rescue our economy and to affirm the strength and staying power of our democracy. We’re particularly proud of the work that we’ve done to revitalize our alliances and partnerships, the foundation of our foreign policy. 

And the United States has its style, United States-style democracy. And China has the Chinese-style democracy. It is not just up to the American people, but also the people of the world, to evaluate how the United States has done in advancing its own democracy. In China’s case, after decades of reform and opening up, we have come a long way in various fields. 

… We believe that it is important for the United States to change its own image and to stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the world. Many people within the United States actually have little confidence in the democracy of the United States and they have various views regarding the government of the United States in China. 


A hallmark of our leadership, of our engagement in the world is our alliances and our partnerships that had been built on a totally voluntary basis. And it is something that President Biden is committed to reinvigorating and strengthening. And there’s one more hallmark of our leadership here at home and that’s a constant quest to as we say, form a more perfect union.

And that quest, by definition, acknowledges our imperfections acknowledges that we’re not perfect. We make mistakes. We, we have reversals we take steps back. But what we’ve done throughout our history is to confront those challenges, openly, publicly, transparently. Not trying to ignore them. Not trying to pretend they don’t exist. Not trying to sweep them under the rug. And sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s ugly. But each and every time we’ve come out stronger, better, more united, as a country.

I recall well when President Biden was vice president and we were visiting China … and Vice President Biden at the time said it’s never a good bet to bet against America, and that remains true today.

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Highlights from the heated meeting in Alaska

2021-03-19 04:38:01

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