US-China talks in Alaska (Credit: Reuters Pictures)
US-China talks in Alaska (Credit: Reuters Pictures)

'Tough and direct' talks in Alaska between US, China conclude; Blinken says Beijing gave 'defensive response'

ANI | Updated: Mar 20, 2021 03:35 IST

Washington [US], March 20 (ANI): The final session of talks between US and Chinese diplomats in Anchorage, Alaska ended on Friday, which were described as 'tough and direct' by national security adviser Jake Sullivan, while State Secretary Antony Blinken said that the meeting made the Chinese 'defensive'.
"We certainly know and knew going in that there are a number of areas where we are fundamentally at odds, including China's actions in Xinjinag, with regard to Hong Kong, Tibet, increasingly Taiwan, as well as actions it is taking in cyberspace," Blinken told reporters after the last session wrapped on Friday, reported CNN.
"It's no surprise that when we raised those issues clearly and directly, we got a defensive response. But we were also able to have a very candid conversation over these many hours on an expansive agenda," he added.
The US had two priorities: laying out US and international concerns about China's behaviour and conveying the Biden administration's positions, said Blinken.
"We expected to have tough and direct talks on a wide range of issues, and that's exactly what we had. We had the opportunity to lay out our priorities and intentions and hear from the Chinese side their priorities and intentions," said Sullivan.
In a meeting between Blinken and Sullivan with China's foreign policy chief Yang Jiechi and State Councilor Wang Yi, the Chinese officials ignored protocol to rebut Blinken's description of Washington's "deep concerns" about some of China's actions and vociferously criticize the US, the state of its democracy and domestic racial tensions, according to CNN.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden said he was 'proud' of Blinken.
"I'm very proud of the secretary of state," Biden said when asked by reporters on the South Lawn for his reaction to the blistering exchange between the two sides.
CNN reported that the President's endorsement sends a strong signal to the Chinese that the tone struck at Thursday's meeting -- a forceful US critique of China's behaviour domestically in places like Xinjiang and overseas, as well as Blinken's pushback -- has the full backing of the administration.
However, despite highlighting concerns with China, the US officials have repeatedly stressed that they are and willing to work with China on areas of mutual interest.
"Of course, on issues ranging from Iran to Afghanistan, through the normal diplomatic channels, we'll continue to work with China on the way going forward," Sullivan said.
The first high-level meeting between the Biden administration and China in Alaska saw acrimonious exchanges between US and Chinese officials, indicating the deep divide between the two sides despite the change of guard at the White House.
Meanwhile, China reiterated hopes that the US will not underestimate Beijing's determination to "defend its territory".
"We have reiterated to the United States once again sovereignty and territory are principle issues. On these issues, we hope the United States is not going to underestimate China's determination to defend its territory, to defend its people, and maintain its righteous interests," Wang said during a press conference on Friday, reported Sputnik.
Yang also told reporters that many major differences still remain between the countries.
"The strategic dialogue is direct, frank, and constructive... but there are so many major differences sitting between the two sides," Yang said. (ANI)