Diplomats from the US and China have publicly denounced each other at the first physical meeting between the two countries since US president Biden took office.
At the Anchorage meeting in the U.S. State of Alaska, US Secretary of State Blinken began the meeting by expressing his ” deep concern “about China’s actions in Hong Kong, its role in cyber attacks on the US, and other issues that he believes threaten” global stability”.
China’s top diplomat Yang responded with a speech of more than ten minutes instead of the planned two minutes, accusing, among other things, America of imposing “its own version of democracy”, while the US itself is struggling with it, referring to the Storming of the Capitol.
He also criticized the US’s aggressive foreign policy and the treatment of minorities in the country.
When Yang finished his speech, Blinken kept the journalists in the room to respond. He said that China’s neighbors are pleased that the US is more active on the international scene under Biden, referring to its recent trip to Japan and South Korea.
Then the Chinese wanted to react again to Blinken, which led to bickering about when the press should leave the Hall.
It was an exchange of frustrations and accusations on both sides. For the Americans, it was mainly about the diminishing freedoms in Hong Kong and the human rights violations in Xinjiang.
China responded by stating that it is internal affairs, which has nothing to do with foreign affairs. According to the Chinese diplomat, the US must do something about the situation in its own country. “He talked about racism and said that black people are being murdered in America.”
Here is the moment when the previously icy talks between China And the US almost melted down— after a series of pointed statements from each side & both trying to have the last word. The press were ushered out but the Chinese wanted to respond. @jakejsullivan @SecBlinken pic.twitter.com/842naeVIDx
— Ruffini (@EenaRuffini) March 18, 2021
The public altercation between the top diplomats was unusual, as such meetings usually start with a number of brief general remarks. The conversation continued behind closed doors.
American diplomats reported shortly after the disagreement that China had violated the protocol with the too long opening statement. They accused China of “theater” that could be used as propaganda in their own country.
China later accused the US of ignoring the protocol. To state TV, diplomats said that the Americans had been speaking for too long and opened the meeting “hostile”. “This is not how you treat your guests,” said a diplomat.
Before the meeting, there was tension. On Wednesday, the US announced additional sanctions because of the Chinese stance towards Hong Kong.
Under the previous President Trump, the relationship between the two world powers has deteriorated considerably, partly due to the trade war. Biden seemed to take a somewhat milder course towards China than his predecessor, but promised to put more emphasis on issues such as human rights.
Later today, more talks between China and the US will be on the agenda in Anchorage.