China says 'strong smell of gunpowder' sensed in U.S. talks


Beijing does not have "high expectations" for upcoming talks with the United States in Alaska, China's ambassador to the US told reporters Wednesday, in what will be the first meeting of senior officials from both countries since US President Joe Biden took office.

However, it did not go so well.

"Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability", Mr Blinken said of China's actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and of cyber attacks on the United States and economic coercion against U.S. allies.

"Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability", he said.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Communist Party foreign affairs chief Yang Jiechi took aim at each other's country's policies on Thursday in their meeting in Anchorage.

"We do not seek conflict, but we welcome stiff competition, and we will always stand up for our principles, for our people, and for our friends", the USA national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said at the start of talks.

U.S. and Chinese officials have exchanged sharp rebukes in the first high-level talks between the Biden administration and China, taking place in Alaska.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (2nd R), speaks at the opening session of US-China talks.

The Biden administration has made clear that it is looking for a change in behavior from China, which has expressed hope to reset relations that had worsened drastically under former USA president Donald Trump. In response, China stepped up its rhetoric opposing United States interference in domestic affairs.

Just a day before the meeting, Blinken had announced new sanctions over Beijing's crackdown on anti-China advocates in Hong Kong.

Washington has said it is willing to work with China when it is in the interests of the United States and has cited the fight against climate change and the coronavirus pandemic as examples.

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The US has pledged to raise contentious issues such as Beijing's treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. When the media was again ushered out, Yang told reporters to "wait" and raised a finger at the US side, accusing Blinken of speaking in a condescending tone.

"Taiwan, which provided the USA with direct support through personal protective equipment donations at the beginning of the pandemic, would be a valuable voice at the worldwide table", the lawmakers said. USA officials in Alaska said they wanted to avoid a simple recitation of talking points and create space for the two sides to discuss issues and ask each other questions.

A U.S. senior administration official had also pointed out that though both sides had agreed to opening statements of about 2 minutes, the Chinese delegation spoke for more than 20 minutes while the American representatives stuck to the allotment of time.

"I'm hearing deep satisfaction that the United States is back, that we're reengaged", Mr Blinken retorted.

"The Chinese delegation [.] seems to have arrived intent on grandstanding, focused on public theatrics and dramatics over substance", the official told reporters at the Anchorage hotel where the meeting was taking place.

The Global Times, a Chinese government-affiliated media organisation, quoted a Chinese diplomat who said that what the American side did during the meeting was "neither hospitable nor good diplomatic etiquette".

Washington has said it is willing to work with China when it is in United States interests, citing climate policy and the coronavirus pandemic as examples.

The largest group representing exiled Uighurs wrote to Mr Blinken urging him to demand that Beijing close its internment camps in the Xinjiang region, where United Nations experts say more than one million members of the ethnic group and other Muslim minorities have been held.

Yang went on to say that "China is firmly opposed to U.S. interference in China's internal affairs" - Beijing's stock response to criticisms of its approach in Xinjiang, Hong Kong or vis-a-vis Taiwan.

Bonnie Glaser, an Asia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said tough statements from both sides in the run-up to the meeting had created a risk that it would devolve into an exchange of accusations and demands.