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US-China meeting set for Alaska but thaw in relations unlikely

(ATF) US and Chinese officials will on March 18 stage their first high-level meeting since Joe Biden was elected when Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Beijing’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi hold face-to-face talks in Alaska.

The White House said on March 10 that Blinken and Yang would meet as the US official returns from his first overseas trip to Japan and South Korea.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan will join the meeting in Anchorage with China’s State Councillor Wang Yi, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, adding that the administration would approach its relations with China “in lockstep” with its partners.

“It was important to us that this administration’s first meeting with Chinese officials be held on American soil, and occur after we have met and consulted closely with partners and allies in both Asia and Europe,” Psaki told a news briefing.

She said the meeting would be “an opportunity to address a wide range of issues, including ones where we have deep disagreements.”

LOWEST DEPTHS

The Biden administration has committed to review US policies toward China, as ties between the world’s largest economies have sunk to their lowest depths in decades.

Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, held their first phone call as leaders last month and appeared at odds on most issues, even as Xi warned that confrontation would be a “disaster” for both nations.

Despite the less frosty relations than under the previous administration of Donald Trump, Blinken signalled that next week’s meeting would not be a return to regular senior-level dialogue.

Blinken has signalled that the US would hold China accountable on the world stage. “The US will embrace its role as a world leader and rally international partners to take on pressing global challenges,” he said on March 3.

“The Biden administration’s foreign policy will reflect American values, including a commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and a belief in the dignity of every individual,” he added.

With reporting by Reuters

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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

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