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Envoys from Biden administration and China to hold first in-person meeting in Alaska next week

  • Author: Peter Martin, Nick Wadhams, Saleha Mohsin, Bloomberg News
  • Updated: March 10
  • Published March 9

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the State Department, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will meet with their Chinese counterparts in Alaska next week, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Blinken and Sullivan’s meeting with Yang Jiechi, a member of the ruling Politburo, and Wang Yi, the foreign minister, would represent the highest-level in-person exchange between the two sides since President Joe Biden took office in January. Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke by phone on Feb. 10.

Ties between the U.S. and China sank to their lowest level in decades under former President Donald Trump, with both nations ramping up sanctions and tariffs, expelling journalists and closing consulates.

Plans for the meeting were reported earlier by the South China Morning Post. In response to a question about the Post’s report on Tuesday, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the agency didn’t “have any future travel or meetings to announce at this time.” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian declined to comment about the report when asked about it at a regular briefing Wednesday in Beijing.

Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are preparing to visit Japan and South Korea next week as part of Biden’s efforts to demonstrate an early diplomatic focus on Asia. Trips over the Pacific Ocean by U.S. officials often involve stopovers in Alaska.

Since entering office in January, the Biden administration has signaled that it plans a tough stance toward Beijing, affirming the Trump administration’s conclusion that genocide was occurring in China’s Xinjiang region. Yet officials have also said they want to cooperate on issues such as climate change. In a speech last week, Blinken said the U.S. approach to China will be “competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be and adversarial when it must be.”

Chinese diplomats have expressed their hope for better relations with the U.S., but have so far offered few signs that they are willing to compromise on areas of tension from China’s human rights record in its far Western region of Xinjiang to Beijing’s industrial policies and the South China Sea.

Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, warned the U.S. to stop “crossing lines and playing with fire” on Taiwan during a press conference in Beijing on Sunday. He also criticized the U.S. for “willfully interfering in other countries’ internal affairs in the name of democracy and human rights,” while pointing to climate change as an area for potential collaboration.


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