Blinken Will Meet Chinese language Officers After Asia Tour Subsequent Week
WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor to President Biden, will meet two senior Chinese government officials next week, the Biden government’s first face-to-face diplomatic encounter with its key foreign rival.
In a statement on Wednesday, a State Department spokesman said Mr. Blinken and Mr. Sullivan would meet China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Anchorage next Thursday.
The meetings will follow next week visits to Japan and South Korea by Mr. Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, two key U.S. allies who have close ties with China and are expected to be consulted prior to engagements such as planned Beijing.
“It was important to us that this administration’s first meeting with Chinese officials on American soil take place after we have met and closely consulted partners and allies in Asia and Europe,” said Jen Psaki, White House press secretary.
The Anchorage meeting will continue a cautious trade-off between the world’s two greatest powers, one that has been under way since the Biden administration took office, to largely continue the Trump administration’s firm stance on Beijing. Last week, a speech by Mr Blinken and a new White House National Security Strategy document identified China as the greatest national threat to the United States.
In his speech, Blinken said managing relations with China was “the greatest geopolitical test of the 21st century” and called China the only country that “can seriously question the stable and open international system”.
Mr. Biden spoke to China’s Leader Xi Jinping last month, warning him that, according to a White House summary, he intended to question China’s “forced and unfair economic practices,” as well as its human rights records and crackdown on Hong Kong from the call. However, Mr Biden also said he hoped to work with Mr Xi on issues such as the coronavirus, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and climate change.
US officials have not set out a specific agenda for the Anchorage meeting. Mr Blinken said on Twitter that he looks forward to bringing Chinese officials “into a number of issues, including those on which we have deep disagreements”.
Mr. Blinken will be stopping in Alaska on his return trip to Asia, his first trip from Washington amid the coronavirus pandemic. Until now, to his frustration, Mr. Blinken has conducted diplomacy exclusively by telephone and video. Mr Blinken has been vaccinated, but officials have cited the risks to others accompanying him as a reason for his limited travel so far.
He will depart Washington on Monday and make scheduled stops in Tokyo and Seoul before continuing to Anchorage. Mr Austin, who will be traveling on a separate plane, will depart from Seoul to meet officials in India, the Defense Department said.
March 10, 2021, 6:47 p.m. ET
Mr. Blinken testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, saying the meeting was an opportunity to “appreciate the many concerns we have about Beijing’s actions and conduct, including the impact of Chinese trade practices on the law openly state “American workers.
But he said he and Mr. Sullivan were also “investigating whether there are other ways to work” with Beijing.
Mr. Blinken added that the meeting was not the beginning of a strategic dialogue and that follow-up meetings would be contingent on “tangible progress and tangible results” on Washington’s concerns.
The Alaska meeting will be the first known face-to-face diplomatic contact between American and Chinese diplomats since June, when then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a tense and largely unsuccessful meeting with Mr. Yang in Hawaii.
On Friday, Mr. Biden will meet virtually with the leaders of Australia, Japan and India, a group collectively known as the “Quad” whose implicit purpose is to review China’s economic and military influence in Asia.
The strategy document, released by the White House last week and overseen by Mr Sullivan, outlined plans for rebuilding the United States’ economy, democracy and foreign alliances to establish a “position of strength” against rivals such as Russia and China.
“By restoring US credibility and reaffirming forward-looking global leadership, we will ensure that America, not China, sets the international agenda,” the White House plan reads.
But Mr. Biden has been cautious so far and has not yet taken any major policy action against China. Even President Donald J. Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports are under review, Sullivan said last week. And the Pentagon is conducting a month-long review of its China policy and forcing a stance in Asia.
Chinese officials have publicly stated that they are not seeking a confrontation with the United States or global domination and that the Trump administration is responsible for a relationship between Washington and Beijing that analysts say has hit its lowest point in decades.
Eric Schmitt contributed to the reporting.