US-China relations make no breakthrough during top diplomats’ talks

Anh Huyen
Chia sẻ

(VOVWORLD) - Top US and Chinese diplomats had their first face-to-face meeting under President Joe Biden in Alaska on Thursday to discuss policy and attempt to restore ties that have become increasingly strained in recent years. Although both sides showed goodwill, their differences remained huge.

US-China relations make no breakthrough during top diplomats’ talks  - ảnh 1From left to right, top row: Mr. Antony Blinken and Mr. Yang Jiechi; bottom row: Mr. Jake Sullivan and Mr. Wang Yi. Photo: Reuters

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was joined in Anchorage by Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, to meet with their Chinese counterparts, State Councilor Wang Yi and Chinese Communist Party foreign affairs chief Yang Jiechi, for two days of talks. A day earlier the US slapped sanctions on China for a revision of the election law in Hong Kong earlier this month.

A strategic dialogue or just an initial encounter?

While Chinese officials called the Alaska talks "a strategic dialogue," the US called it an initial contact to learn about each other concerns, intentions, and priorities, saying the two sides would not make any joint statements after the meeting.

It will be difficult for the US and China to reset their relations, say observers, because Washington and Beijing have so many disagreements.

The uncompromising positions voiced by both sides before the talks offered little promise.  At the Chinese Foreign Ministry's annual press conference on the eve of the meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned of "red lines," referring to Taiwan, the South China Sea (called the East Sea in Vietnam), Xinjiang, and Hong Kong. US officials said they would join the talks with a tougher attitude, as the Biden administration is attempting to strengthen ties with allies in the Indo-Pacific region to limit China's influence.

On Wednesday, Secretary Blinken announced sanctions on 24 Chinese officials involved in changing the election law in Hong Kong. Washington accused Beijing of undermining Hong Kong's electoral system. The new US administration evidently wanted to send a signal that Washington deems Beijing’s actions violations of international rules and norms. Beijing accused Washington of meddling in its internal affairs.

US-China relations make no breakthrough during top diplomats’ talks  - ảnh 2Representatives of the US and China in their first face-to-face high-level talks under the Biden administration, March 19, 2021. Photo: Reuters

Signals of skepticism

Relations between the US and China are at their worst in years. Tensions have skyrocketed recently regarding trade, espionage and the pandemic.

At the Lanting Forum in Beijing last month, Foreign Minister Wang made suggestions for getting relations with the US back on track. They include mutual respect, no interference each other's internal affairs, strengthened dialogue, conflict control, moving in the same direction, re-launching win-win cooperation, eliminating obstacles, and restoring exchanges across sectors. The US has shown no sign of taking these suggestions seriously.

Since Joe Biden took office in January, the US has not taken any steps to cool down trade or technology tensions, and has intensified its pressure on human rights issues in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, which are the biggest obstacles to improving bilateral ties.

A public spat at the opening of the Alaska talks made a poor starting point for future negotiations and offered  no substantive solutions to the current tensions between the two world powers.