US and China begin first high-level bilateral talks

US and China begin first high-level bilateral talks

However, they described the upcoming talks in Alaska differently.

China and the United States are ready for their first face-to-face meeting with representatives from the Joe Biden administration, but officials in Beijing and Washington have different characterizations of the upcoming talks in Alaska.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin are currently in Asia, where they support America’s Pacific alliances in Japan and South Korea.

Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan are slated to meet with Chinese diplomats Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi in Anchorage on Thursday.

Before setting off on his trip to Asia, Blinken told lawmakers that the Anchorage meeting “is not a strategic dialogue.”

Speaking to the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week, Blinken said there was no intention for follow-up contacts unless “tangible results” were achieved on the issues of concern.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry offered a different description of the talks the next day. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Politburo member Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will travel to Alaska at the invitation of the United States “for a high-level strategic dialogue.”

The difference in phraseology surrounding the negotiations did not go unnoticed by political scientists, some of whom have suggested that Beijing used the chosen words to give more meaning to the meeting on American soil.

In Washington, senior Biden administration officials highlighted the practical nature of the upcoming US-China discussions in a telephone conversation with the press. They noted the importance of maintaining open channels of communication with Beijing, both in areas where the two countries cooperate and where they have disagreements.

Officials used the term “conversation” to describe the event and said there were no “unrealistic expectations” about the outcome of the “sensible and very sincere” face-to-face communication that the new administration intends to have with China.

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The US will tell China that it is expecting “deeds, not words” if Beijing wants to change the tone of bilateral relations, two US officials said Tuesday.

High-level talks slated for Thursday are aimed at “understanding each other” and “critically assessing the relationship” as the new government of US President Joe Biden formulates its policy towards China, officials said.

Washington will also express its “deep concern” over China’s actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and will outline “some concrete steps” Beijing must take to change course, officials told reporters on condition of anonymity.

In particular, it is about ending “economic coercion” against Australia, a key US ally, they said.

China expects its diplomats to hold “frank talks” with Blinken and Sullivan, Zhao Lijian said, noting that Beijing “will clarify its position on relevant issues.”

Both Chinese diplomats traveling to Anchorage on Thursday have called for a reset in bilateral relations in recent weeks, starting with the lifting of US sanctions on Chinese officials and companies and the lifting of duties on goods.